Cameroon and Mexico have blown hot and cold en route to the knockout phase of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. Having clambered their way out of Groups B and F respectively, the two now meet in a Round of 16 tie where the ability to minimise past errors and maximise strengths could make the difference between an early flight home and a place in the last eight.
Cameroon have come a long way in their three games so far. Held by New Zealand and then losing their cool in defeat to Portugal, the Junior Lions were on the brink of elimination going into their final group outing against tournament dark horses Uruguay. Martin Ndtoungou’s young side dug deep, however, to snatch an unlikely win and second place in the section, an outcome that has filled them with belief. On the downside, defender Ghislain Mvom is still unavailable due to the red card he picked up against the Portuguese.
Defeated 1-0 by Argentina and held to a goalless draw by England, Mexico owe their place in the Round of 16 to a comfortable win over Group F also-rans Korea DPR. That said, the CONCACAF giants have been in wasteful mood so far, missing a penalty against the English and squandering a hatful of chances against the North Koreans. Coach Juan Carlos Chavez will be hoping his charges are not quite so profligate against the dangerous Cameroonians.
53 - The number of goal attempts Mexico have so far had at Colombia 2011, only three of which have hit the back of the net, and one of those coming courtesy of a Korea DPR own goal.
What they said
“We don’t have anyone in midfield acting as a link man between the central defenders and the forwards, and I think that’s been causing us a lot of problems. We haven’t been playing the kind of balls where the strikers only to have shoot on goal. They’re having to fight hard every time they get the possession and obviously that’s not very easy,” Cameroon forward Franck Ohandza.
“Cameroon are a powerful, pacy team and they’re strong in defence, though we get the impression that they’re not so good on the ball or in front of goal. We’ve reached the stage now where it’s a question of win or die, and mentally we’re ready to win,” Mexico forward Saul Villalobos.