Rounding off the quarter-final fixtures at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 will be the meeting between United Arab Emirates and Costa Rica, Asian and CONCACAF champions respectively, this Saturday in Cairo.
If football were purely decided by form, Los Ticos would certainly have the upper hand after recovering from a shaky start to the competition and going on to knock out hosts Egypt in the Round of 16. However, the Emiratis appear to have a hoodoo on Spanish-speaking sides, having beaten both Honduras and Venezuela so far.
Moreover, Costa Rica and UAE have both exhibited similar styles of play, putting the emphasis on no-nonsense defending and keeping hold of the ball when pushing forward. The AFC representatives are sure to miss suspended No10 Theyab Awana, one of their key performers, with their Central American opponents hoping to take full advantage.
29 - The number of times CONCACAF nations have faced AFC sides in FIFA U-20 World Cup action. Asia has the upper hand so far with 13 wins, eight draws and eight defeats, scoring 43 times and conceding 34 in the process. The Emiratis have chipped in with two wins and one defeat, one of these matches being 30 September's 1-0 group victory over Honduras. However, this will be the first meeting between UAE and Costa Rica in this competition.
"Given the choice of facing Costa Rica or Egypt, who'd have 70,000 fans behind them, I think it's clear who I'd choose! It's true that we also feel comfortable taking on Central or South American sides because we've got similar styles. But we must still move up a gear if we intend to beat the Costa Ricans, given how solid at the back and focused they were against the Egyptians." Mahdi Redha, UAE coach
"We've already made history with our performance, because it's the first time one of our national sides has reached the quarter-finals of a FIFA tournament. Besides which, we're the only CONCACAF representative still in the competition. All of which is a great responsibility, but we hope to be able to live up to the expectations." Ronald Gonzalez, Costa Rica coach