Thursday, August 30, 2007

Recap: 1st Knockout Round, U-17 World Cup

You can see all the highlights for yourself on the FIFA website, right here.

Germany 2-1 USA
Already recapped.

England 3-1 Syria
A penalty and two team efforts saw England advance over the Asians on Thursday. Though he was powerless to stop Syrian MF Ziad Ajouz' wicked strike early in the second half, GK Alex Smithies was again an outstanding presence between the sticks for the English. The man of the match, however, was surely MF Henri Lansbury who buried yet another penalty for the Brits and assisted on the final goal courtesy FW Rhys Murphy. This win sees England move on to the quarterfinals where they are favored to advance again.

Nigeria 2-1 Columbia
The game was nil-nil coming out of halftime and Nigeria and Columbia looked dead even, suffering the same amount of defensive blunders while the scoreline reflected the same. That is, until FW Yakubu Alfa scored his first goal of the tournament off a beautiful strike eight minutes from time. The Nigerians advance to the quarterfinals. However, while they might have superior athleticism, the Nigerian defense this game left much to be desired and much a potential opponent such as Spain could exploit. They don't impress me as a team to advance past the next round.

Argentina 2-0 Costa Rica
Two well-executed Albiceleste corner kicks sent the young Ticos home, each supplied by FW Santiago Fernandez and finished by DF Gaston Sauro (who enjoyed his first 90 minutes of the tournament, no less). Argentina is establishing itself as the most lethal team from a distance this tournament as they look like scoring every time they penetrate their attacking third. These fearsome South Americans are headed to the quarterfinals and surely they have momentum enough to carry them to the semis.

Peru (5) 1-1 (4) Tajikistan
Though the field was sopping wet and the ball quite slippery, 90 minutes and extra time wasn't enough to settle the score between the Peruvians and Tajiks. Though Tajik GK Farrukh Berdiev made more than a few fantastic saves and was quite possibly the only reason the Tajiks survived to penalties, Peruvian GK Eder Hermoza proved the hero by stopping a Tajik penalty, allowing MF Luis Trujillo to step up for the win. Peru are underdogs going into the quarterfinals. Their chances of advancing are slim.

Ghana 1-0 Brazil
A tremendous performance by Ghana's goalkeeper puts the Africans into the next round. While Brazil looked the worst they had all tournament, they still produced several goal-scoring opportunities, none of which they converted. Considering the Brazilians form and performances prior, I'd call this result an upset, but by no means does it imply that Ghana will be ill-equipped to handle their opponents in the next round. They're having a good run this year and I expect it to continue.

Spain 3-0 Korea DPR
FW Bojan bags a brace as Spain shut out North Korea to advance to the quarterfinals. Korea had little to do with the affair, managing just three shots on goal to show for ninety minutes work. Allowing Korea just 38% possession, Spain maintain their impressive and classy form this tournament and remain my firm favorite to become champions.

France 3-1 Tunisia
10-man Tunisia blocked a penalty during regulation only for a brace from FW Damien Le Tallec to put them away in extra time. The resurgent Bleuettes recovered from their poor performance throughout group stage to menace the hence-fearsome Tunisians the whole match long. France advance to the semi-finals in a limbo of form that appears to be a coach's nightmare, but I for one don't think they'll survive long. You'll see why shortly.


You can see them in a nice, graphically-organized display, but here are the quarterfinal matches, my picks to advance in bold.


France v. Spain
Ghana v. Peru


Argentina v. Nigeria
England v. Germany

The ENG/GER match you'll want to watch. Perennial rivals, both sides have looked champion-quality since the beginning. Fireworks, definitely.


And now, a modified Best XI for the quarterfinals:

Bojan (ESP)
Ransford Osei (GHA)

Toni Kroos (GER)
Henri Lansbury (ENG)
Fran Merida (ESP)
Sheriff Isa (GHA)
Kevin Wolze (GER)

Alexis Machuca (ARG)
Nana Ofori-Twumasi (ENG)
Daniel Opare (GHA)

Alex Smithies (ENG)

FW Macaulay Chrisantus (NGA)
FW Damien Le Tallec (FRA)
MF Rabiu Ibrahim (NGA)
MF Reimond Manco (PER)
DF Gaston Suaro (ARG)
DF Mamadou Sakho (FRA)
GK Eder Hermoza (PER)



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