Nigeria sent a stern warning to the rest of the competition here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 when they devastated holders Mexico in their first game in Al Ain, and the Golden Eaglets are back in action to confirm their tag as tournament favourites when they meet Sweden at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday. Also on the card is a clash of teams looking to reestablish their credentials when Mexico take on Iraq. Over in Dubai, Canada are hunting an historic win in Group E, where all four teams are tangled on one point after a pair of opening-day draws.
Canada-Iran (Dubai, Rashid Stadium, 17:00)
Argentina-Austria (Dubai, Rashid Stadium, 20:00)
Mexico-Iraq (Al Ain, Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, 17:00)
Sweden-Nigeria ((Al Ain, Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, 20:00)
Match of the day
Group F’s leaders meet in a mouth-watering clash as Nigeria, aiming to become champions of the U-17 category for a record fourth time, try to keep up their smashing form. The Swedes were patient and clinical in their 4-1 opening rout of Iraq, Elias Andersson and Gustav Engvall combining well on a pair of goals. But their challenge will be dramatically stiffer up against the Golden Eaglets who manhandled Mexico 6-1 in their opener. And with the four-goal sensation Kalechi Iheanacho to try and wrangle, the Scandinavians – having a good go of it so far in their first-ever U-17 world finals – are sure to have their hands full.
Also in Group F in Al Ain, wound-lickers Mexico and Iraq aim to set things right. El Tri were better than the lop-sided 6-1 scoreline of their first game implies, as were Iraq, who dominated largish chunks of their 4-1 loss to Sweden. If either side want to keep their party alive here in UAE, they will need to start their engines in earnest now.
Canada are sill hunting a first-ever win in a world finals at this age category, and they have another chance to get the job done when they meet Iran. The Persians managed an impressive 1-1 draw against a ten-man Argentina team in their opener, but in truth they had several chances to escape with a full three-point haul. The other game in the section will see the Argentines in action against Austria, both hoping to get their groove back in a group left wide open after a quartet of opening-day draws.
Player to watch
After one matchday in Al Ain, there is one player in particular to keep an eye one, especially if you’re a member of the Swedish defence. Kalechi Iheanacho was dominant in Nigeria’s rout of Mexico, scoring four times and putting in a performance far more nuanced and mature than his 17 years would suggest. “We have to have the courage and determination to keep going,” he told FIFA.com after soaring to the top of the scorer’s charts.
13 – times Canada have played FIFA U-17 World Cup matches, but they have yet to win one. Their draw against Austria on opening-day was a good result and the third time they’ve shared the spoils at a junior finals, but coach Sean Fleming is hoping finally to celebrate a full three-point haul. He’ll have his chance against Iran on Tuesday.
“We’re not getting carried away with our start because Iraq were a very good team, so there’s still a lot of work that we need to do to get better and get out of the group. We’ll just keep trying to get better with every game and keep enjoying ourselves,” Sweden captain and playmaker Elias Andersson is not getting ahead of himself after a 4-1 win over Iraq in their opening game.