New boys step out with former champs
Groups E and F are the last two sections to get under way at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, with the host cities of Concepcion and Puerto Montt welcoming the eight teams who have yet to kick a ball in anger, among them former champions France and Russia, alongside tournament first-timers South Africa.
Match of the day* New Zealand-France, Puerto Montt, 19 October 2015, 17:00 (local time)*
2001 winners France make their return to the competition after missing out on a place at UAE 2013. Jean-Claude Giuntini’s reigning European champions are definite contenders for the title and will rely on the same blend of tactical cohesion and awareness that earned them the continental crown. Opponents New Zealand are now familiar faces, having made six U-17 world finals appearances in all, and will be striving to find the attacking edge that deserted them at Mexico 2011 and UAE 2013, where they went out in the group phase.
The other matches**** Syria and Paraguay are the other teams in action in Group F and will both be anxious to make positive starts to their bids to reach the next round. Paraguay have reached the finals twice before, at New Zealand 1999 and Trinidad and Tobago 2001, advancing to the quarter-finals on the first of those occasions. For their part, Syria made it to the second round on their only previous appearance at Korea 2007, an objective both sides are gunning for again this time.
The day’s Group E matches will be hosted at the Estadio Municipal Ester Roa in Concepcion, where tournament newcomers South Africa will take on eight-time U-17 world finalists Costa Rica. The Amajimbos will be aiming to replicate their CAF African U-17 Championship form, where they enjoyed a remarkable run to the final. As for Costa Rica, their main aim is to make the knockout phase for the fifth time.
In the other game in the pool, Asian champions Korea DPR embark on their fourth appearance in the competition against Russia, who have graced this stage twice before and are out to atone for their last-16 exit at UAE 2013.
Player to watch* Odsonne Edouard (France)*
The spotlight will be on the tall and accomplished Bleuets striker, who showcased his prowess at the UEFA European U-17 Championship by scoring eight goals in a mere five matches, a continuation of his club form with Paris Saint-Germain, where he found the back of the net 35 times in 30 outings last season.
The stat ** 2 - **the number of former competition winners stepping out on Monday: Russia, who lifted the trophy as the Soviet Union back in 1987, and France, victorious at Trinidad and Tobago 2001.
The words**** “The key thing is to convince the players to give their all because there are a lot of things that can go against you in football, like the opposition, the ball and the stadium. There’s no one that can stop them from giving all they have, though, and trying to play good football and get good results,” Paraguay coach Carlos Jara.
Match schedule* Group E* South Africa-Costa Rica (Estadio Municipal Ester Roa, Concepcion, 17:00 local time) Korea DPR-Russia (Estadio Municipal Ester Roa, Concepcion, 20:00 local time)
Group F New Zealand-France (Estadio Chinquihue, Puerto Montt, 17:00 local time) Syria-Paraguay (Estadio Chinquihue, Puerto Montt, 20:00 local time)