As Argentina and Panama gear up for their crucial Group E meeting tomorrow evening, neither side will be under any illusions about just what is at stake. After draws in their respective opening games, both the reigning champions and the ambitious central Americans will be desperate for three points to ease the pressure ahead of their final group matches on 6 July.
Despite creating a wealth of opportunities in their Group E opener against Czech Republic, the Albicelestes simply could not put the ball in the net. Small wonder then that coach Hugo Tocalli has been reminding his players of the importance of keeping a cool head in front of goal against the Canaleros. For his part, Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes has been working on morale in the camp as they bid to build on their historic opening draw with the North Koreans. The pace of gifted striker Gabriel Torres will once again be a key part of the Panamanian game plan.
Neither side have any players suspended for the tie. For their part, Argentina are monitoring the progress of Damian Escudero, who came into the tournament with a muscle strain, while over in the Panamanian camp, Francisco Castaneda is again available after completing his suspension. The other news concerns Rigoberto Austin, who has joined the Canaleros squad in place of the injured Alexander Andreve.
This is the first time Argentina and Panama have met in an official FIFA tournament, That said, this will be an especially significant game for CONCACAF, with the Canaleros having the honour of marking the 150th match by a team from their confederation in the tournament.
The Albicelestes, meanwhile, will be taking part in their 100th game in FIFA youth tournaments, having previously played 61 times at U-20 level and 38 times at U-17.
"Panama will be no soft touches. They play well, know how to move the ball around and also have options in the air. We'll need to be very focused and convert the chances we create." Hugo Tocalli, Argentina coach.
"Argentina are a team of great prestige and history. Nonetheless, we're in very good shape. We earned a historic point in our first game and are confident about our chances." Julio Dely Valdes, Panama coach.
"It seems like Panama are a bit more adventurous than the Czechs, although I'm sure they won't be throwing caution to the wind. We'll definitely need to improve our finishing." Sergio Aguero, Argentina striker.
"All the Argentina players are very good - the squad players and the first-teamers - but mentally we're ready to face them. The boss (Julio Dely Valdes) has told us to stand tall and that, as a team, we too are giants." Luis Mejia, Panama goalkeeper.