FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinals line-up
Mali v Ghana (October 21, 5 pm, Guwahati)
Mali have pumped in five goals in their Round of 16 match against Iraq, while Ghana beat Niger 2-0. Both teams looked to be in fine fettle. So expect the battle of the African giants to be a see-saw affair. It’s going to be physical and open. Mali’s Lassana N’Diaye has now scored five goals in four matches. Ghana’s Eric Ayiah and company, however, are producing fantastic attacking football. Also, Ghana may just have a better defensive organisation.
USA v England (October 21, 8 pm, Goa)
England are now even more confident after their penalty shootout victory against Japan. But without Jadon Sancho they looked less penetrative. To put the England colts under pressure the opponents will have to take the game to them. USA can do that through Tim Weah – scored a hat-trick against Paraguay and Josh Sargent. But they must keep it tight against England. A gung-ho approach could be suicidal.
Spain v Iran (October 22, 5 pm, Kochi)
Iran are the last Asian team standing in this World Cup and they have shown top form. Thumping Germany at the group stage and beating two-time U-17 World Cup champions Mexico in the Round of 16 attested Iran’s progress at this level. But Spain could be a different kettle of fish in a big game, although they were lucky to edge France in the pre-quarters. You always start with an advantage if you have four Barcelona starlets.
Germany v Brazil (October 22, 8 pm, Kolkata)
The battle royal; the game Kolkata has been waiting for. Brazil have won the U-17 World Cup thrice. They are looking the standout side in this tournament. But Germany are, well, Germany. This game is about pedigree. Three years ago, the Die Mannschaft had humiliated the Selecao in the (senior) World cup semifinal at Belo Horizonte. If the Brazil colts win on Sunday they would somewhat avenge the seniors’ loss of face.