…Confirmed Nigeria to play Argentina on Wednesday at 2200 hours.
By Eniola Olatunji
ROUND OF16 FIXTURES.
USA vs NZ on Tues.
Uzi vs Isr on Tues.
Col vs Slo on Wed
Bra vs ??? on Wed.
Arg vs Ngr on Wed.
Eng vs Ita on Wed.
WGF vs Uru on Thu.
Ecu vs ??? on Thur.
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia slipped to a 0-1 loss to the Uruguay U20 team at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas Mandoza on Sunday night via a late penalty neatly tucked in by Gonzalez Fernadez in the 90+3rd minute making the African representatives stay in a limbo on their chance to play in the Round of 16.
Tunisia fought like Trojans but it was simply not their day until their captain who was an utility player mistakenly handled the ball in the box and 39 year old Ref Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez without consulting the VAR pointed to the spot.
The two teams were meeting for the first time and showed great respect for each other but despite great efforts put into the game to upset Uruguay with her better records the Tunisians were bowed entering the same boat with Nigeria for a lucky loser spot after the African Champins Senegal had been shouldered off in the tournament.
Things got complicated for Tunisia as Iraq and England surprisingly played a goalless draw at the Estadio Ciudad La Plata on a night book makers were expecting England to roast Iraq.
The Group E table showed England topping the group with 7 points scoring 4 goals and conceding 2. Uruguay came second with 6 points scoring 7 goals and conceding 3. Tunisia made the 3rd position with 3 points scoring 3 goals and conceding 2 while Iraq goes home having placed 4th with one point, scored no goal but conceded 7.
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia got bashed 6-0 by Mexico on her first International outing at Tunis on 2th June 1977 but on 20th June 2002 she had grown to wallop Libya 5-0 also in Tunis. In her first Group game on 22nd May she lost to Junior Three Lions of England by a slim lone goal and in the second group game on the 26th of May she nipped Iraq 3-0. On her way to Argentina 2023, she played 3-3 with Congo; lost eventual African Champions, Senegal 0-3 and got wounded by the Flying Eagles of Nigeria 0-4 showing that Tunisia is not a fantastic side playing last 5 games winning one, drawing one and losing 3 with 6 goals scored and 11 conceded.
There were two previous appearances of Tunisia at theU20 World Cup in 1977 when she hosted and placed 14th and at the Soviet Union in 1985 where she placed 16th as she was edged at the group stages.
The La Celesta (Sky Blue) of Uruguay had three important friendly matches before landing in Argentina. Uruguay was Humbled 2-0 by Brazil on 13th February 2023; the team beat Honduras by a lone goal on 10th May 2023 and also beat Uzbekistan 2-0 on 13th May 2023. At the Group games, Uruguay thrashed Iraq 4-0 on the 22nd May and on the 25th of May bowed to England 2-3. That means of her last five games, she won 3, lost 2 scoring 9 goals and conceding 5. Note that her two loses were to soccer powers England and Brazil.
Uruguay appeared at the world cup 15 times as against two of Tunisia. Uruguay won Silver twice in 1997 at Malaysia when she lost to Argentina in the final on 5th July as she had beaten Ghana 3-2 AET in the semifinal. In 2013 at Turkey where Paul Pogba of France was Best Player of the tournament, France won 4-2 on penalties after a goalless full time; Uruguay had beaten Iraq 7-6 on penalties after 1-1 at Full time. She won the Bronze at Japan 1979 when Diego Maradona scored winning goal number 2 at 74th minute in the semifinal and went to beat Poland in the Losers’ Final 5-3 on penalties after 1-1 at Full time.
Incidentally Uruguay first 4th place among three times as 4th placed was at Tunisia in 1977; Nigeria 1999 and she lost to Italy 4-1 on penalties at South Korea 2017 in the year England and Venezuela were qualifying for their first final which England won 1-0. Uruguay appeared in the quarterfinals three times in 1981, 1983 and 1993.
Brazil will meet New Zealand on 31st May at La Plata on Tuesday at 1830 hours. Italy will meet England on 31st May at La Pata at 2200 hours. Nigeria faces Argentina on Wednesday at 2200 hours. Ecuador will meet the Runners up of Group F at Santiago on 1st June. Columbia will meet Slovakia at Juan on 31st May at 1830 hours. Uzbekistan will play Israel at Mendoza on Tuesday 30th May at 2200 hours. Other Round of 16 qualifiers will emerge as the group games are concluded tomorrow. The Round of 16 matches start on Tuesday 30th May and ends on 1st June.
Eniola Olatunji reporting for Patmos Media Line.