Masters of Ginga face unfancied Honduras
Kochi: Having won all their three group matches with ease, South American giants Brazil will start clear favourites when they take on the unfancied Honduras in a pre-quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Wednesday.
Seeking their fourth title, Brazil won all their matches to top Group D. They began with a dominating 2-1 win over title-contenders Spain and then outplayed both North Korea and Niger with identical 2-0 margins to set up a round of 16 clash with Group E's third-place finishers Honduras.
They are not expected to have it this easy against the South American giants, who have been in excellent form so far. Besides winning all three of their group matches, they have conceded just one goal while scoring six. Their strike duo of Lincoln and Paulinho have been deadly up front, ensuring that Brazil did not feel the absence of a certain Vinicius Junior.
With the football-mad Kochi crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium set to support Brazil overwhelmingly, it is going to be a tough job for Honduras to keep the Brazilian attackers at bay. This will be the last time the Kochi crowd will see the Brazilians in this FIFA U-17 World Cup and the South American champions will be up against a confident Germany in the quarterfinals in Kolkata on October 22 if they beat Honduras.
With the quarter-finals against Germany looming if they win, Brazilian forwards can make amends and look to score as many goals as possible against Honduras. Brazil and Honduras have earlier faced each other once at the U-17 world finals. The current Honduras coach Jose Valladares was on duty at the first meeting, at UAE 2013, when the Brazilians won 3-0.
Ghana to clash against Niger in battle of African teams
Navi Mumbai: Two-time champions Ghana will start as favourites against a gutsy continental neighbours Niger in what promises to be an exciting Round of 16 clash on Wednesday.
Ghana have a pedigree in the age-group competition having won it in 1991 and 1995 and having reached four out of five finals in the 1990s in which they dominated the age group competition.
Since then they have not stamped their authority as they would have wanted in the event and would be aware of their African opponents' ability to create surprises.
In fact, it was Niger that had stopped five-time champions and geographical neighbours Nigeria from entering the competition held in India for the first time in the zonal stage in their home continent.
Niger, known as Junior Menas, can certainly upset the apple cart of "Black Starlets", if the latter take them lightly which they will certainly not do. Niger have not really impressed in their brief stay at Kochi and Goa.
On the other hand Ghana, known for their pace and ball skills, had qualified for the tournament in this country with a start-stop campaign with a 4-0 victory over Cameroon and 5-0 verdict over Gabon as their most impressive runs. They can frustrate their fans as shown in drawn games against Guinea and win on penalties over Niger to enter the final before losing 0-1 to Mali in the final of the continental championships.