FIFA U-17 WC: Honduras faces in-form Brazil

On the face of it, Honduras which faces Brazil in the pre-quarterfinals on Wednesday, will not give Amadeu a sleepless night but the coach is not prepared to take his opponent lightly.

The support from the stands notwithstanding, the familiarity with the conditions and overall brilliance of Brazil will pose a serious challenge for the Central American side.   -  H.Vibhu

Brazilian coach Carlos Amadeu spoke of the tough road ahead soon after the win over North Korea which sealed a place for his team in the knock-out round.

On the face of it, Honduras which faces Brazil in the pre-quarterfinals on Wednesday, will not give Amadeu a sleepless night but the coach is not prepared to take his opponent 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,’’ said Amadeu at the pre-match press conference.

Honduras has sneaked into the knock-out stage as one of the four best third-placed teams in the tournament and facing Brazil at a venue where it enjoys playing, will be a tough proposition for the Central American side.

However, head-coach Jose Valladares said his team is not prepared to go down without a fight. "Brazil is a good team and a favourite to win. They have a good defence but we will be playing for a win. We will try to make it as difficult as it is for our opponent, ‘’ he said.

No team has struck a chord with the Kochi crowd as Brazil has in this tournament. The support from the stands notwithstanding, the familiarity with the conditions and overall brilliance of the unit will pose a serious challenge for the Central American side.

Honduras’ massive losses to both Japan (1-6) and France (1-5) have exposed the frailties of the side. Apart from the huge win over New Caledonia (5-0), its performance against the bigwigs in the group was nothing to shout about. The individualistic brilliance of Palacios and Mejia (three goals each) has been the highpoint of its campaign so far.

Despite scoring seven, Honduras has conceded 11 goals and it will have to shore up its leaky defence if it is to pose any serious challenge to Brazil.The Brazilians, on the other hand, though not at their fluent best yet,  have been quietly efficient in this tournament. However, it did show shades of brilliance which has made its football pleasing to the eye in the league matches.

Except for against Spain when it went down by a goal, Brazil has hardly been stretched in this tournament. North Koreans neutralised the fluent style through the rugged defence but Brazil found ways to overcome it.

In the absence of Vinicus junior, Paulinho and Lincoln have shared the responsibility of scoring goals. The midfield under Alan and Marcos Antonio has been efficient. Alan, who was rested in the match against Niger, will start against Honduras. Goalkeeper Gabriel Brazoa’s stability under the bar has covered up for any weakness in the defence.

But as Carlos Amadeu insists - the Brazilian offence starts from its defence - where overlapping defenders have added teeth to the attack. The lack of big wins may not worry coach Carlos but for the fans who will throng the stadium in large numbers, a victory by narrow margin will be the last thing on their minds.

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