July 9, 2007

U-20 World Cup - Day 9 - Mexico finishes perfect, Africa shines

Mexico 2-1 New Zealand - With their spot in the Round of 16 secure, El Tri marched out a primarily second team Sunday afternoon. But the reserves proved to be just as successful as the first team, as the Mexicans finished the group stage as the only team with 3 wins in 3 matches. Goals from "El Hobbit" Christian Bermudez and Osmar Mares put the Mexicans ahead, but the Kiwis didn't leave Canada empty-handed, as Jack Pelter scored New Zealand's only goal of the tournament in the 89th minute.

Gambia 2-1 Portugal - Another African surprise, as the Gambians fell behind early, pulled it back even, had their captain sent off, then won it in the second half thanks to a Portugal own goal. The result catapulted the Africans into 2nd place in Group C, while Portugal barely made it through as the 3rd place team. The Gambian win also eliminated Costa Rica, who were hanging on for some good news that never came.

Congo 2-0 Canada - The home team left quite an impression in this tournament, and it wasn't for all the right reasons. In the heavy rain in Edmonton, the Canadians bowed out of the tournament with a whimper, falling 2-0 to Congo and failing to score a goal in all three of their matches. To add insult to injury, Canada keeper Asmir Begovic was shown the red for handling way outside the area, and it was nothing but embarrassment for the home team. The Congo win ensured their place in the Round of 16, where they'll meet Mexico.

Chile 0-0 Austria - With Chile's spot as group winners all but assured, the South Americans maintained their clean sheet for the tournament with a scoreless draw. The draw was a little unkind to the Chileans, however, as they will meet Portugal in the Round of 16, while the Austrians will face Gambia.

Talking points: All 4 African teams (Gambia, Zambia, Nigeria and Congo) all advanced to the Round of 16. The CAF and CONMEBOL are the only federations to have all of their teams still alive.

- Are the Portuguese and Brazilian teams reflective of their 3rd place finishes? Whatever the case, the Chileans and Spaniards (their respective Round of 16 opponents) can't be happy to see them this early.

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