A battle between two former champions, including the holders, highlights the opening day of quarter-final action at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, while the winner of the day’s other last eight clash will make history in Chillan. Three-time champions Brazil face off against four-time winners and holders Nigeria in Vina Del Mar for the first time at this level before Croatia and Mali face off for a spot in what would be either side’s inaugural semi-final at this level.
Match of the day
Brazil-Nigeria, Vina Del Mar, 1 November 2015, 16:00 (local time)
Vina Del Mar has been a kind venue for A Seleção in the past, playing host to four of Brazil’s games in their victorious FIFA World Cup campaign in 1962, with that trend continuing with two victories at the Estadio Sausalito during Chile 2015. Nigeria stand in the way of Carlos Amadeu’s men continuing their charmed streak in Vina, and the imperious Victor Osimhen will be giving Brazil’s defenders restless nights ahead of the quarter-final. The Nigerian No9 has scored seven goals in four games. Seven is also the number of titles shared between these sides, but this game is remarkably the first meeting between the two sides at this level, although the nations’ U-20 sides faced off in New Zealand earlier this year – with Brazil the 4-2 victors.
The other match
Croatia face Mali in a truly ground-breaking game. The European side played in and won their first U-17 World Cup knockout game against Germany in the previous round, and face Mali in a FIFA tournament for the first time. Mali might have reached this stage twice before (in 1997 and 2001), but they have never gone further, meaning the victors would reach the final four at the U-17 global finals for the first time. The African side saw off Korea DPR in a dominant performance in the Round of 16, and now boast the best defensive record in the tournament, having conceded just one goal – against Ecuador in the group stages. Croatia will need all the creative guile of Nikola Moro and their technically gifted frontmen to unlock the Africans, with the Croat captain registering two goals and two assists so far.
Player to watch
Josip Brekalo (Croatia)
While Moro has stolen the headlines in Chile, Brekalo has been in inspired form in South America. The No7 was sensational against Germany in the previous round, consistently attacking the right side of the DFB-Nachwuchs defence with a tormenting combination of intricate footwork and devastating delivery. He hit the woodwork and was instrumental in both goals, crossing for Moro’s opener and snatching possession before setting free Ivan Delic to tee up Davor Lovren’s late tap-in. The African’s superb defensive record so far will certainly be under threat from the gifted Dinamo Zagreb youngster.
200 minutes without conceding a goal for Mali at this tournament. They have some way to go to catch the record, a staggering 830 minute run set by Nigeria at the 1987, 1989 & 1993 finals.
“We are candidates to win the title, but so are Brazil. We will work to put up a good fight,” Emmanuel Amuneke, Nigeria coach.
Brazil-Nigeria (Estadio Sausalito, Vina Del Mar, 16:00)
Croatia-Mali (Estadio Nelson Oyarzun Arenas 19:00)
(All times local)