FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP:SAUDI ARABIA TESTS BRAZIL'S MIGHT
Saudi Arabia hopes to play the spoilers as she confronts Brazil today for a place in the quarter final of the on going FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.
This will be the third time both teams are meeting in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Of their previous two matches, A SeleÃ§Ã£ozinha won one and drew the other, and there is every reason to expect a close encounter in Barranquilla after both sides advanced from the group phase in some style.
Brazil began a tournament many are expecting her to win with an underwhelming draw against Egypt before hitting her stride with big victories over Austria and Panama. Nevertheless, Coach Ney Franco does have some concerns, especially at the back, having been forced to make two first-half substitutions in Brazil's final group game against the Panamanians in a bid to address the team's defensive failings.
Franco is pondering whether to stick with the players who came on then, and push makeshift full-back, Danilo, into a more familiar midfield role. He has no such problems up front, where Henrique, Philippe Coutinho, Oscar and the versatile Casemiro have been carving out chance after chance with their snappy passing and fluid movement, which could yet provide the key to the country's fifth world title at this level.
Brazil's back-line will need to be at its tightest against the dangerous Saudis. Prompted by the pacy duo of Ibrahim Alibrahim and Yahya Dagriri, the Saudis scored eight goals in their opening two group games, seven of them by different players, before turning in a listless display against Nigeria, one that left Coach Khalid Alkoroni an unhappy man. Even so, the Middle Easterners had already qualified for the last 16 by then (for the first time ever at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup), and are justifiably confident they can cause an upset.
The number of times that Brazil has appeared at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals and the number of times she has reached the second round. On only one occasion had she been knocked out in the last 16, however, at Canada 2007. 'We need to make a few adjustments for the next round because whoever loses that game is going home. Saudi Arabia scored eight goals in the group phase and she is an attack-minded side, so we need to up our game to avoid any surprises,' Brazil's Coach, Ney Franco, said.
'We scored eight goals in two games, but we rushed things a little bit in our last game and there are a few problems we need to sort out up front. We won't have any problem getting motivated for the next match, though,' Saudi Arabia's Coach, Khalid Alkoroni said.