Fans promise Edmonton fiesta
© Foto-net

A titanic battle is in prospect when Chile meet Portugal in Edmonton in the Round of 16, where the contest in the stands promises to be every bit as intriguing as the one on the pitch.

Both teams have enjoyed huge levels of encouragement from the ex-patriot Chilean and Portuguese fans so far at Canada 2007 and, with Edmonton having a sizeable collection of both, the 60,000-seater Commonwealth Stadium promises to rock on Thursday night.

Portugal coach Jose Couceiro told FIFA.com: "The reaction of the public to us has been fantastic and we want to give something back to the fans. We want to offer them a victory against Chile, not only for the Portuguese community in Edmonton but also all over Canada." Goalkeeper Rui Patricio will shoulder a lot of the responsibility for that and he said: "We have had such a lot of great support from the fans in Toronto and Montreal and that's always important. It gives us extra strength. Even though we are concentrating on the game, you can feel it and hear them."

Midfielder Feliciano Condesso agreed: "We really appreciate what they have done for us and we would love to hear the same atmosphere here in Edmonton. I think it's going to be good. Against Mexico it was kind of evens with the number of supporters in the stadium but the Portuguese managed to be a little bit louder and I think they are going to help us again. We have felt their presence even at the airports and training, showing their love for us."

Chile coach Jose Sulantay has also spoken emotionally of his "love" for the Chilean exiles in Canada, many of whom have been away from their homeland since the 1970s and there was the hint of a tear in his eye when he said how much it has meant to him to give them such happiness at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Chile striker Nicolas Medina said: "It's nice to feel the support of the fans when you are so far away from home. It's great to play in that kind of atmosphere."

Forward discussions
On the field of play, two strikers have dominated discussions about the encounter, one who is missing and one who could have a major influence on the outcome. Portugal captain Bruno Gama has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament after suffering a foot fracture in the 2-1 defeat against Gambia and his two goals against New Zealand in their opening match have provided the team with their only victory at the tournament so far.

Couceiro admitted he could not hide the fact that Gama's absence would be a blow but he feels he has enough options to adapt the front line without him. "Bruno is an important player but right now the most important ones are the other ones we still have available," Couceiro told FIFA.com. "I have a good relationship with Bruno from my days at Porto and I feel bad that our captain is out of the team."

Chile's Alexis Sanchez is the player that everyone seems to be talking about and he is also the man that every journalist in town wants to speak to. However, the explosive forward has shied away from the microphones, saying he will only be happy to speak if he becomes a world champion.

Fielding a series of questions about the threat Sanchez will pose, Couceiro said: "We have to be able to adapt to Chile's strong attack but Alexis Sanchez has only played one good game and that was against Congo and Congo were a man down in the first half. He is a technically good player but I don't have any special plans to mark him man-to-man."