Mexico will look to book their ticket to the Semifinals and achieve coach Marco Antonio Ruiz’s goal of finishing in the top four as they face South Korea in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 U-17 World Cup. While Mexico got a clash against one of few teams it is favored against, they will still be a tough match and a rival that Mexico doesn’t have a good history with in this tournament. Mexico will hope for a repeat performance from their game against Japan to be able to get a chance at another top four finish.
After an unstable group stage performance, Mexico faced the Round of 16 with little expectation to get through to the Quarterfinal Round against a Japan side that had been among the best of the tournament. Still, with a good game plan from coach Ruiz and the best performance of the team so far, Mexico got the upset and defeated Japan. They also had the “reward” of now facing South Korea in the quarterfinal. While South Korea is still a strong team, they look less so than a lot of the other teams in the quarterfinals like France, Spain, the Netherlands, and hosts Brazil. South Korea got through to the Round of 16 against one of the lesser teams in that round, Angola, and they were even lucky to not allow an equalizer after the final minutes saw Angola pressing for a leveler.
But while this is true about South Korea in relation to Mexico, it also works the other way around as Mexico is also one of the “easier” rivals it could have faced in the game. South Korea are a fast-paced team, and historically, Mexico doesn’t have the success against them. The last time they faced each other was in the 2009 U-17 World Cup, and South Korea eliminated Mexico in penalty kicks, oddly enough also after a 2-0 Mexico win against Japan.
Mexico might be slightly favored and if they are physically fit, they can cause a lot of problems to a South Korean side that has done well but never looked overly superior to their rivals, even against Haiti. Still, they are a disciplined side and Mexico must play to their Round of 16 level to get through, and if they do, they can once again start making their claim as one of the powerhouses in the U-17 category just like they were a decade ago.
Game: Republic of Korea vs. Mexico
Date: Sunday, November 10th
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Pacific, 10:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estádio Kléber Andrade (Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil)