(Sporting Alert) — Mexico have been impressive thus far at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, but the defending champions will face this strongest yet when they come up against Argentina on Tuesday.
Semi-finals U-17 World Cup fixtures
Argentina v Mexico (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, 8:00 AM ET)
Sweden v Nigeria (Dubai, Rashid Stadium, 11:00 AM ET)
Two more wins are what the North Americans need to celebrate once again, but they know it will take a big time effort.
“We’re aiming to win the tournament but we need to come through two more games to achieve that,” said Mexico coach Raul Gutierrez.
“All the sides left in the competition are definite title contenders and if we don’t come away with the trophy, then we shouldn’t look on it as a failure.”
The Mexicans, after beating Italy in the second round, knocked off South American giants, Brazil in the quarter-finals. Now they come up against another title contender who is confident of winning in Abu Dhabi.
Argentina, who picked up a 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast in their quarter-finals, are bracing for another “special” clash against Mexico.
“I was very impressed by Mexico’s defeat of Brazil,” Argentina coach Humberto Grondona said. “It will be a special game for me because I was in charge of the Mexican U-17 team in Finland in 2003.
“In any case, matches between the two countries are always special, at any age level.”
In the day’s other game, Nigeria will take on Sweden in what is expected to be a very close battle at Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
Nigeria come into the game as the slight favorites and will be using their past experience as three time champions and three time finalists as motivation.
“I want to congratulate the players for the way they performed against Uruguay, and the Swedish team should watch out for us come Tuesday,” coach Manu Garba said.
“We have learned a lot from the last time we played, and this time we have to be ready for them.”
Sweden, meanwhile, although in their U-17 World Cup debut, have also impressed.
In a way, it seems they have exceeded their expectations.
“When we came to UAE our goal was to reach the Round of 16, but we’ve played excellent football and it has taken us even further,” head coach Roland Larsson said.
“We are going to try our hardest to get to the final. It’s not impossible. We have really enjoyed our time here and at the end of the day we’ll be delighted whatever happens, so we have nothing to lose.”