Group C: Favourites advance, El Salvador impress
© Getty Images

When the draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 was made, most people were agreed on the favourites to progress from Group C. Pitched against reigning South American champions and 2013 Toulon Tournament finalists Colombia and a talented Turkey side with fervent home support behind them, Australia and El Salvador were expected to have little chance of threatening the top two.

So it proved, with Los Cafeteros dominating the section, and the tournament hosts just behind them. That said, the unfancied Central Americans managed a little piece of history in the second round of games, when they scored the nation’s first win in a FIFA competition on grass, a result that allowed them to beat the Australians to third place in the pool.

Final standings
1. Colombia, 7 points
2. Turkey, 6
3. El Salvador, 3
4. Australia, 1

Next up
Round of 16 (local times)
Colombia-Korea Republic, Wednesday 3 July, Trabzon, 21.00
France-Turkey, Tuesday 2 July, Gaziantep, 21.00

Key moment
Turkey’s fans in Trabzon and Rize wanted entertainment from their young side and duly got it in the group opener against El Salvador, with Salih Ucan getting them on their feet after only nine minutes as the hosts cantered to a 3-0 win. Yet it was not until late on in their third and final game that the home fans could finally celebrate qualification. In between came a 1-0 loss to eventual group winners Colombia, a result that put Turkey’s place in the next round in some jeopardy. 

The threat of elimination had become very real as their final match with Australia neared its conclusion, with the score tied at 1-1 and the hosts just a goal away from a possible exit. Substitute Okay Yokuslu proved the hero of the hour, however, bringing relief to the nation and joy to the Trabzon crowd with his 87th-minute winner. And what a goal it was too, the midfielder shaping to shoot from distance out on the right only to send a superb chip into the top right-hand corner of the Australian goal.

Key players
Billed as the star of the Colombia side, mostly on the back of his Serie A displays with Pescara, Juan Quintero has lived up to all pre-tournament expectations. As he has shown with his exquisite touch, sublime ball-carrying, pinpoint passing and fierce yet precise shooting, not to mention his two goals – including the winner against Turkey –, Los Cafeteros have a potentially world-class player on their hands. Turkey have some valuable assets of their own in Salih Ucan, who has been nothing short of superb in midfield, and Cenk Sahin, the hosts’ revelation of the group phase thanks to his brace against the Salvadoreans and a turn of pace that has left opposing full-backs chasing shadows.

While not quite as fast, El Salvador duo Diego Coca and Jairo Henriquez did not go unnoticed by the scouts in the stands due to their lively performances up front. Nor would the talent-spotters have overlooked the qualities of Australia’s bearded defensive midfielder Joshua Brillante, who also got forward at every opportunity and showcased his shooting skills to score from fully 30 yards against the Central Americans.

The stat
1 - The greatest achievement in the nation’s footballing history, El Salvador’s 2-1 defeat of Australia in their second match was their first win in an 11-a-side FIFA competition. La Selecta’s groundbreaking victory was made all the more notable by the fact they fell behind to an early goal. Fears of a heavy defeat proved unfounded, however. “We’ve gone down in our country’s history and the whole of El Salvador will remember this generation,” said Azulita midfielder Diego Coca, who scored his side’s equaliser against the Aussies, the prelude to Jose Pena’s all-important winner.

The words

 

The young players of Colombia U20 national team are great role models for the new generations. Receive our grateful embrace. Congratulations - Alvaro Uribe Velez, former President of Colombia between 2002 and 2010, retweeted by Juan Quitero