FIFA U20 World Cup Canada 2007

FIFA U20 World Cup Canada 2007

30 June - 22 July

FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007

Group B: Spain ease as Zambia shock

Despite enduring a scare or two and never really hitting top form, European champions Spain fulfilled the pundits' predictions by topping Group B. Uruguay, who lost momentum after conceding a last-minute goal to the Spaniards in their opening game, were undone by an energetic Zambia side, the Africans stealing into the runners-up spot at their expense. Bottom-placed Jordan returned home with the satisfaction of having acquitted themselves well in their maiden FIFA U-20 World Cup.

How it finished
1. Spain, 7 pts.
2. Zambia, 4 pts.
3. Uruguay, 4 pts.
4. Jordan, 1 pts.

What's next
Spain - Brazil, 11 July, Burnaby.
USA - Uruguay, 11 July, Toronto.
Zambia - Nigeria, 12 July, Ottawa.

What happened
Spain: On the plus side the European champions showed all their strengths: tactical discipline, power and poise in the midfield, and plenty of options in terms of personnel and tactics. Their concentration wavered at critical times however, and led to them conceding too many goals, five in all. Nevertheless, they still bagged seven points and were the second-highest scoring outfit in the group phase behind the USA.

Zambia: The return of Clifford Mulenga revitalised the African side's challenge. After opening with a disappointing draw with Jordan, they made Spain sweat for the three points. And inspired by Mulenga's creative wiles in their final game, the zestful Zambians overpowered Uruguay to storm into second place. Their physical prowess and attacking style posed opponents countless problems, but the Copper Bullets struggled at times to plug the inevitable gaps at the back.

Uruguay: After a strong start the South Americans lost their way a little. Marcel Roman, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani combined superbly to put Spain against the ropes. After surging into a 2-0 lead though, tiredness and defensive errors allowed the Spanish to steal a late point. An uninspired win over Jordan was followed by a dismal defeat to Zambia, a result that left the Charrúa camp with much to ponder ahead of the knockout stages.

Jordan: The Middle Easterners may have collected just one point on their debut on the world stage, but they proved worthy opposition to their more illustrious rivals. Abdallah Salim's arrowing free-kicks shook the Uruguayan woodwork and dragged his side back into contention against Spain. The young striker also had the honour of scoring Jordan's first ever goal in the tournament.

Moments to savour
• Clifford Mulenga's artistry, imaginative playmaking and sheer versatility spurred Zambia to a place in the last 16.
• The enthusiasm of the fans in Burnaby, and their wholehearted support for Zambia and first-timers Jordan.
• Adrian Lopez's hat trick for Spain against Jordan, team-mate Diego Capel's last-minute lob against Uruguay, and the left-winger's frenetic celebratory dash around the pitch.
• Uruguay keeper Mauro Goicoechea's two match-winning saves in the dying stages of the game against Jordan. Without them Uruguay would not have qualified.
• Abdallah Salim's majestic free kicks and Raed Fraeh's lung-bursting surges down the flanks, two sights that got the Jordan fans going in Burnaby.
The numbers
One point and three goals. Jordan coach Jan Poulsen was a happy man following his side's showing in Canada. And no wonder. His unheralded charges secured a point in their debut appearance and bagged three goals into the bargain, two of them against mighty Spain. The young Middle Easterners warmed to their task straightaway, posed their three rivals severe problems and kept opposing goalkeepers busy throughout.

The final word
Clifford Mulenga, Zambia."People are probably seeing something they didn't expect from a country like Zambia. I think we're still rebuilding, but we will show how much talent there still is in Zambia despite the 1993 plane crash when we lost so many players. The people have a lot of faith in us."

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