Saturday, July 14, 2007

Chile Is Favorite to Win FIFA U20 World Cup

National team to play Nigeria in quarterfinal

Chilean football fans have nothing to complain about since the players of the U20 squad have kept their promise and shown a great performance in the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup being held in Canada. Chile qualified in first place of Group A after victories over Canada (3-0), Congo Republic (3-0) and a 0-0 draw with Austria. On July 12 the U20 squad faced Portugal at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and continued its unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win. The match was played in front of 25,000 spectators and under very hot conditions, according to the TV broadcast at a temperature of 32 ° Celsius. The Chilean team took control of the action from the kick off and was only prevented from scoring thanks to great saves by Rui Patricio, the Portuguese goalkeeper. Alexis Sanchez yet again became the most dangerous player for Chile and could have scored twice in the first 15 minutes had it not been for Patricio. The Portuguese players could only try to stop Sanchez with some rough tackles that nearly left the Chilean striker off the field in the 19th minute due to an elbow injury. Sanchez was bandaged by the paramedics and continued to play, causing havoc in Portugal's area.
still Chile had 63% of ball possession, while Sanchez had to be replaced in the 76th minute by Gerardo Cortes.
Finally Chile was able to obtain its well-deserved goal in the 45th minute as midfielder Arturo Vidal deflected the ball into the net from close range after a high free kick taken by Mauricio Isla.
In the second half Portugal attempted to attack more but according to the television broadcast its toll on the South Americans, leaving more space for Portugal to go forward. However, the Portuguese players lost their calm and in the 88th minute two of its players were sent off. Mano came from behind and pushed a Chilean player to the ground and as referee Mohd Salleh of Malaysia showed him the red card, it was rudely snatched from his hand by Zequinha, that also had to be escorted off the pitch by security guards due to his violent reaction. Everything did not end well for Chile since in the 94th minute, Arturo Vidal was also sent off for apparently wasting time before taking a free kick. This is a major loss for Chile since Vidal is one of the leaders of the team due to his optimism and decisive play. After the match Vidal stated that he "could not understand why he was sent off, or what the referee was saying. Anyhow, we are now three matches away from being World Champions." Vidal has been voted among the best players in this year's event, and has scored two goals. Chile will play Nigeria on July 19 in Montreal and in case of a victory will have to play the winner of the match between Austria and U.S.A. This last country has also become a favorite to win the Cup since three of its players (Freddy Adu, Danny Szetela and Josmer Altidore) are among the top goalscorers of the event with three goals each. The other South American team that continues in competition is Argentina that defeated Poland 3-1 and must play Mexico in its next match. Argentina's Sergio Aguero is the leading goalscorer of the tournament with five strikes and has also become a candidate for the "best player" award. U.S.A (2-1) and Spain (4-2) knocked out Uruguay and Brazil respectively, and the Spaniards will play the Czech Republic on July 18.

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