Friday 13 October 2017, 04:59

Day of destiny, as group stage reaches climax

  • Final games in Groups E and F take place on Saturday

  • France aim for top spot in Group E in Guwahati

  • Chile and Mexico need a victory in final group encounter

DAY PREVIEW - The third round of games in Groups E and F will be laced with intrigue, as a whole slew of nations hope to seal their progress at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. One side from each section is already guaranteed a berth in the last 16, and the rest will be hungry to join them in a set of matches that will also determine the best third-placed teams.

France are the trailblazers in Group E, but they too have work to do as they vie to secure top spot. The section winners will remain in Guwahati for the start of the knockout phase, and the French will be keen to stay put by clinching at least a draw against Honduras. A point could also prove enough for their opponents to advance, but a win would simplify the equation – as it would for Japan, who face a New Caledonia side in need of a miracle.

Also sure of going through are England, who must avoid defeat against second-placed Iraq to sew up first place in Group F. As for bottom duo Mexico and Chile, they both require victory to have any chance of qualifying, and could still end up packing their bags, even if they win.

The games

*Group E

France-Honduras (Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati)*

Japan-New Caledonia (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata)

Group F

Mexico-Chile (Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati)

England-Iraq (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata)

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What you need to know 1. All eyes will be on** **the race to reach the Round of 16, but the tussle for the adidas Golden Boot could also hot up, as the group phase closes. All five of the leading candidates will be in action and several are scheduled to meet, with top goalscorer Amine Gouiri of France (four goals, one assist) coming up against fifth-placed Patrick Palacios (three goals). Elsewhere, second-placed Jadon Sancho (three goals, two assists) locks horns with fourth-placed Mohamed Dawood (three goals), while Keito Nakamura (three goals, one assist) will attempt to boost his tally against New Caledonia.

2. After a painful week, Chilean football could do with a major lift. The country is still reeling after the senior side missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ following a 3-0 loss to Brazil and unfavourable results elsewhere, while their U-17s have hardly fared better. Hernan Caputto's young charges have suffered heavy defeats in both their games at India 2017, which means their meeting with Mexico could scarcely be more important. Chile will be desperate for all three points to give their fans something to cheer – while either grabbing a place in the last 16 or ensuring they depart on a high.

3. England's excellent performances in India have owed much to Jadon Sancho, but the Group F leaders will soon have to cope without their gifted forward. Sancho's club side Borussia Dortmund agreed to let him take part on the condition that he return after the group stage, and, after joining up late with the rest of the squad, he will now be leaving early. Set to tackle Iraq in his last game of the tournament, Sancho will look to help his team sew up top spot as a parting gift.

The stat 1 - Mexico and Chile have crossed paths just once before at the U-17 World Cup, with El Tri emerging comfortable 4-1 victors during the Round of 16 two years ago. It was a bitter outcome for a Chile side eager to shine as hosts, and La Rojita are sure to have revenge on their minds.

The quote "This France team can do everything. They can build moves, attack on the break, threaten from set-pieces – everything. They play more like a senior international team than a U-17 side. We'll have to play the perfect match to cause them trouble and achieve what we want, which is to qualify." Honduras coach Jose Valladares