The opening round of matches in Groups C and D of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 produced four victories by a single goal, with the quartet of winners set to face each other on Wednesday and the losers doing likewise.
With little to choose between the sides in both sections, there is still plenty to play for.
Following the injury he picked up in their win over Portugal, Zambia are hopeful star striker Patson Daka will be available for selection for the crucial Group C meeting with Iran in Jeju. The winner of that game will have every chance of advancing to the last 16. Meanwhile, the Portuguese will look to get back on track against a Costa Rica side also in urgent need of points.
Still buoyant after Rodrigo Amaral’s stunning winner against Italy, Uruguay will contest top spot in Group D with Japan in Suwon, while the Italians take on South Africa in the battle of the two bottom-placed sides in the section.
Group C: Zambia-Iran | Costa Rica-Portugal
Group D: South Africa-Italy | Uruguay-Japan
What you need to know
1 In terms of possession and the number of chances created, Costa Rica and Portugal had the edge over Iran and Zambia respectively in their opening games of the competition. The final scorelines reflected the reality of football, however – namely that domination does not always bring victory with it. To keep their qualification hopes alive, both sides will need to be sharper in front of goal when they face off on Wednesday.
2 Fresh from defeating Costa Rica 1-0 to register their first FIFA U-20 World Cup win in 40 years, Iran find themselves well placed to reach the second round of the competition for the first time. The only side in Group C never to set foot in the knockout stage, the Iranians will achieve that goal with a game to spare if they defeat Zambia and the other match in the section ends in a draw.
3 Meeting Uruguay will bring back good memories for Japan, who beat La Celeste 2-1 at Nigeria 1999 to advance to the final for the first time in their history. Coached by the Frenchman Philippe Troussier, the Japanese were beaten to the trophy by a Spain side featuring future Barcelona star Xavi.
4 In their opening match, South Africa fielded a side in which every player bar goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto was less than 5’7 (1.70m) in height. In contrast, the only Italian player to measure under 5’11 (1.80m) in their first game was midfielder Nicolo Barella – the same height as Mpoto at 5’9 (1.75m). If those stats are anything to go by, it should be a fascinating encounter.