Kolkata: An in-form Brazil will aim for a quarter-final spot against Germany when they face Honduras in their first knock-out match at the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium in Kochi on Wednesday. The South Americans has so far maintained a 100 per cent win record in the group stages beating Spain in their opening match before seeing out Korea DPR and Niger in the next two games.
CONMEBOL side Honduras on the other hand qualified as one of the four best third placed teams from the group stages despite losing heavily to Japan and France. But will not have a easy task controlling the rampant trio of Lincoln, Paulinho and Brenner. “We will definitely play to win. We will try to find loopholes in their game and try to break down their defence. They have a good team, but we have trained well for this game,” said Honduras coach Jose Valladares.
Meanwhile attacking midfielder Alan Souza who was rested fro Brazil’s final Group game is set to return in the fold while another midfielder Vitinho suffering from concussions is set to miss. The Samba are the automatic choices for bookies but coach Carlos Amadeu is not the one to take Honduras lightly.
“I watched Honduras play in the CONCACAF qualifiers. They scored a lot of goals. In this tournament, they scored five against New Caledonia and scored against stronger teams like France and Japan. Palacios and Mejia are talented strikers. We cannot relax against them,’’ he said.
Carlos Mejia and Patrick Palacio who have scored all of Los Catrachos’ seven goals in the tournament will once again be their main men. Brazil however start defence from attack itself as stated by Amadeu and are expected to maintain the same line-up.
Ghana vs Niger
Two times champions Ghana will aim for a first quarter-final berth for the first time since 2007 when they take on debutant Niger in the penultimate match of round 16 at the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday. Niger meanwhile will hope to seal it for the first time in it’s history.
Hailing from Africa both sides are however familiar with other having faced numerous times over the past and are surely aware of the other’s weakness. This is what makes the match even more interesting. “Yes definitely because we know each other so well. Playing each other is a little bit difficult and tricky,” said Ghana coach Samuel Fabin.
Although Ghana had proved to be superior in most of the outings, their most recent outing saw Niger hold on to Ghana for a goalless draw, before losing 6-5 on penalties in the semi-final of the U-17 African Cup of Nations. Ismaila Tiemoko, the coach of Niger is counting on that experience to turn the tables at Ghana. “From two losses of 2-0 we brought it to a nil-nil draw before losing on penalties and this time we hope it’s a victory,” he said in the pre-match event.
Ghana may have topped Group A while Niger qualified as one of the four best third placed teams, but the Ménas has played tougher opponents in Brazil and Spain in their group stage matches henceforth Fabin is not taking Niger for granted. “If you look at what happened in yesterday’s round of 16 matches, you cannot just sit back and say ‘Because (Niger) won a single match, you are going to walk over them,” he said.
Both the sides are expected to field the same line-up that played their previous match and Ghanainan captain Eric Ayiah will once again be their main man. Niger on the other hand did create several chances in all of the matches but failed to put them in the net. But coach Ismaila, will hope that they don’t fluff their chances this time around.