Gambia ready for Mexico's golden boys

All eyes will be on Toronto on Monday when one of the most promising generations in Mexican football opens its FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 campaign against tournament debutants Gambia.

The game
Gambia - Mexico, Toronto, 17:00 (local time)

The stakes
Mexico start Group C as favourites along with European heavyweights Portugal. This is the Tricolor's eleventh FIFA U-20 World Cup appearance and expectations back home are high, with many of the squad featuring in Mexico's FIFA U-17 World Cup success in Peru two years ago. Gambia are entering previously uncharted territory in what is their first FIFA U-20 World Cup, but their players know each just as well as their Mexican counterparts. Eleven of the squad were part of the U17 team that recorded a sensational 3-1 victory over Brazil at Peru 2005.

The players
Gambia were forced to make one change to their line-up shortly before the tournament, Ken Jammeh replacing Abdourahman Dampha. Mexico can call on a full-strength squad.

The past
Mexico hold the record for the number of draws at FIFA U-20 World Cup finals (15 in 38 games), managing five consecutive stalemates in both 1977 and 1979. Eleven of those 15 drawn matches ended 1-1. Newcomers Gambia are the 20th African team to qualify for a FIFA U-20 World Cup. Africa is the second most highly represented confederation with 20 teams, behind UEFA with 28.

The birthdays
Mexican goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota celebrates his 20th birthday on 3 July, the day after his side's opening game of the tournament.

The words
"We will need to play with the ball at our feet, with great creativity and the skill we are known for, but we will also have to fight for the cause. This is a strength in the team that is often overlooked. Sure, we have talent but we have guts and spirit and the courage to fight for the shirt too." Carlos Vela, Mexico forward

"This team has been together for more than four years and the players know each other as well as any 21-year-old players could. They have a good understanding and they are determined to make their mark in Canada. [Ousmane] Jallow is our key man in attack but the other players know where the goal is. We know that Mexico have a big reputation but we are ready to give them a good battle." Bonu Johnson, coach of Gambia

"We feel like brothers after all the years we've been playing together. We know what our team-mates are going to do before they even do it. We are big and strong but we are also a good team. We're not overawed by Mexico." Ousmane Jallow, Gambia striker