Heading into the second round of group games, all the teams will have had the chance to watch their opponents at close quarters and fine-tune their tactics accordingly. Moreover, those players who had not played in their respective continental championships and arrived as secret weapons no longer constitute a surprise. Some teams, of course, are brimming with confidence, such as Brazil and Uruguay, who swept aside their adversaries in their opening matches. Another victory for either side could be enough to book their place in the knockout stage. Here we preview all the action coming on Sunday, Matchday 4 of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Slovakia-Honduras (Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, 17:00)
UAE-Brazil (Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, 20:00)
Uruguay-Côte d'Ivoire (Ras Al Khaimah, Emirates Stadium, 17:00)
Italy-New Zealand (Ras Al Khaimah, Emirates Stadium, 20:00)
Match of the day
United Arab Emirates-Brazil
After completely overwhelming Slovakia, O Seleção have grown in confidence and underlined their status as one of the tournament favourites. They now face the hosts in what should prove a highly appetising game for both supporters and neutrals.
UAE go into the game under pressure after their defeat to Honduras, when they were undone by a goal four minutes from time. A second reverse would leave them in a precarious position, so the hosts will be keeping a very close eye on Brazilian forward Mosquito, as well as his team-mate Nathan, who laid down a marker in the first round of Group A matches.
Also in Group A, Slovakia will be trying to pick themselves up after their opening day drubbing by making amends against a Honduran side buoyed by their defeat of the hosts. In the event of another loss for the Europeans, finishing as one of the best third-placed teams would be their only hope.
Also hoping to stand tall this Sunday after a chastening opening-day defeat are New Zealand. In Group B, the All Whites went down 7-0 to Uruguay on Thursday and will barely have had time to catch their breath before facing Italy, runners-up at the UEFA European U-17 Championship. It represents another stern test for a team with little international experience, but which is on a useful learning exercise for their development programme.
The Uruguayans’ morale will be sky-high ahead of their game against Côte d'Ivoire, another legitimate contender for “match of the day”. It will be intriguing to see if coach Fabian Coito repeats the attacking formation deployed in the first match, when he went with four forwards. Leandro Otormin, one of the stars of the opening round, will be hoping to find a way past an imposing Ivorian defence, the cornerstone of the Elephants’ African Championship triumph.
Player to watch
Meite Yakou (Côte d'Ivoire)
The young Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder joined the Ivorian squad shortly before the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. He played two friendly matches and was a starter against Italy, showing that coach Ibrahia Kamara firmly believes in him. Playing on the left wing, the player’s physique and extreme speed is a threat for any right-back.
2 – Only two teams scored six goals in a single match in the whole of the 2011 tournament, yet the opening round of matches here at UAE 2013 was sufficient for Brazil and Uruguay to achieve this feat.
“In this tournament you can’t underestimate anybody. Every game can be dangerous. We respect them and we need to prepare ourselves with exactly the same focus as we had in our first match,” Daniele Zoratto, Italian coach, ahead of the New Zealand encounter.