In an evenly contested Group B at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, Uruguay and Cameroon both need a win in their final group meeting in Bogota to guarantee a Round of 16 berth without depending on other results. The South Americans would also progress with a third consecutive draw, provided Portugal beat New Zealand in the section’s other match, though La Celeste will surely not want to take that risk.
Though Uruguay were satisfied with a draw against the Portuguese after a below-par display, the same result against the Kiwis in their second game was a painful blow for coach Juan Verzeri and his charges. Despite enjoying the lion’s share of the goalscoring chances, Los Charrúas found themselves trailing and required a 74th-minute equaliser from Adrian Luna who, after missing their opening game through suspension, breathed new life into their attacking play. In Friday’s clash at altitude in Bogota, the Uruguayans must find more spark in front of goal, a failing that dogged them even when finishing runners-up at this year’s South American U-20 Championship.
Facing them are the team currently in bottom place in the group and who have so far been unable to reproduce the form that took them to second place in the CAF African Youth Championship 2011. Short on creativity against both New Zealand and Portugal, Cameroon also contrived to commit glaring defensive errors that fatally undermined their chances. Visibly dejected on their way back to their hotel after the Portugal defeat, the Young Lions’ players openly admitted the need for a big improvement if they are to make the knockout stages.
50 – The match against New Zealand was Uruguay’s 50th at the finals of FIFA U-20 World Cups, a tally bettered by only Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Australia. They have won 23 of those encounters and scored a total of 68 goals.
Diego Polenta, Uruguay captain: “We deserved to beat New Zealand. We had 18 shots at goal and they only had two or three chances. But our fate’s still in our hands. If we beat Cameroon, which will be extra tough because we’ll be playing at altitude in Bogota, we’ll be in the last 16.”
Franck Ohandza, Cameroon forward: “Of course that wasn’t the result we were hoping for. Portugal were very compact and once we went a man down it became even more difficult. We need to analyse our performances, look at the mistakes we’ve made and try and improve. We need a win, it doesn’t matter how we get it.”