By Samindra Kunti in Sao Paulo
November 12 – Brazil have set up a mouth-watering semi-final with France following a 2-0 win over Italy in the last eight of the U-17 World Cup. The French demolished Spain 6-1 in their semi.
In Goiânia, France and Spain played out a balanced first half though Jean-Claude Giuntini showed signs of what was to come through their nippy wingers and playmaker Adil Aouchiche. That versatility and attacking prowess translated into a mammoth score after the break.
In the 46th minute Isaac Lidhaji scored to break Spain’s resistance. The Spanish had taken the lead early on through their captain German Valera in the 9th minute before French central defender Nianzou Kouassi headed home an equaliser.
The French were to add four more goals, becoming the highest-scoring team in the tournament with 17 goals. The 6-1 scoreline is the greatest margin of victory in a U-17 World Cup quarter-final. In 2001, in Trinidad and Tobago, they also reached the last four of the tournament, going on to win the competition.
The standout team of the tournament will have to deal with the hosts if they want to reach a second final. Brazil dispatched Italy 2-0 in the last quarter-final. With star player Thales Magno, injured and out of the tournament, Brazil lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation and an early goal from left-back Patryck settled the hosts’ nerves. In an end-to-end match, Italy enjoyed a number of chance befores Peglow doubled Brazil’s lead at the end of the first half.
Pedro Lucas deputized for Magno and his excellent performance contributed to Brazil’s overall control of the match. The Brazilians had failed to qualify for the tournament, but were instated as hosts after Peru, the original hosts, were found lacking in their preparations.
“Pedrinho gives our team a different characteristic,” said Brazil coach Guilherme Dalla Déa. “He controls actions well on the pitch. He works well in between the lines. He demonstrated all the wisdom that he had spoken of yesterday.”
Two years ago, Brazil were eliminated by eventual champions England in the semi-finals and France will represent another tough hurdle. In 2001, France knocked out Brazil 2-1 at the quarter-finals stage.
In the other semi-final the Netherlands will take on Mexico. The Netherlands’ presence in the last four marks a turnround from a disastrous first start that saw the Dutch were defeated by both Japan and Senegal before sneaking through to the knock-out phase in third place thanks to a dramatic 4-0 win against the United States. The European champions have since shown their mettle with convincing wins. In the quarter-finals they dominated Paraguay to run out comfortable 4-1 winners and set up a last-four encounter with Mexico, who knocked out South Korea 1-0.
The tournament culminates on Sunday with the final in Brasilia.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601205053labto1601205053ofdlr1601205053owedi1601205053sni@o1601205053fni1601205053