The line-up for the Round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 is slowly but surely taking shape.
In the final round of Group C matches, fifa.com reports that no fewer than three teams sealed their places in the knockout stages. Morocco made certain of top spot in the section with victory over Panama, who finish last and definitely pack for home. Uzbekistan beat Croatia and now go through to the next round as runners-up in the section, leaving the third-place Croats to sweat on results in Groups E and F.
Elsewhere, Slovakia’s Group A victory the previous evening became doubly valuable as a result of Croatia’s defeat, as the Slovaks will now definitely make the next round as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Group D front-runners Japan and Tunisia had already sealed places in the Round of 16 with a game to spare. In the head-to-head to determine the group winners, the Japanese struck twice late on to claim the honours.
Behind them, Russia kept alive their hopes of progressing to the next stage with a convincing victory over Venezuela, although the European champions face a nail-biting wait to see whether they will end up as one of the best third-place finishers.
By contrast, the tournament has been a bitter disappointment for the South Americans after defeat in all three of their fixtures. The Japan players may be far from home, but they are set to enjoy the comfort of familiar food and drink. “As an additional motivating factor for my players, I’ve promised them a Japanese meal including sushi if we win the group,” Japan coach Hirofumi Yoshitake revealed to fifa.com in the build-up to the meeting with Tunisia. Yoshitake was grinning when he made the pledge, but the prospect of a slap-up dinner clearly lifted his team, as they dug deep and turned the result on its ear with two late goals.
“The defensive tactics I want from my players are very demanding. It’s a combination of zonal and man-to-man marking. They did it very well in today’s game but it’s an energy-sapping form of defending, which is why my lads were tired at the end and we lost in the closing stages,” Tunisia coach Abdelhay Ben Soltane told fifa.com after his team’s match.
Friday, 25 October Fixtures
Group E: Argentina-Canada (Dubai, 20:00), Austria-Iran (Al Ain, 20:00)
Group F: Nigeria-Iraq (Dubai, 17:00), Sweden-Mexico (Al Ain, 17:00)