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Brazil youngsters out to emulate seniors
Published : 16 Aug 2011 01:30:05
Brazil's youngsters have an eye on emulating their senior counterparts as they chase down a fifth world title at under20 level.
The junior 'auriverde' can book a place in the final on Wednesday if they can see off Mexico for the right to face either France or Portugal in the trophy match.
Brazil have five World Cups to their name at senior level, a record, but at under20 level it is neighbours Argentina who hold the mark with six crowns, hence the Brazilians need no second bidding as they look to close that gap.
Having seen off Spain in a thrilling quarter-final which went down to a penalty shootout while the French were ending African interest by dumping out Nigeria after extra-time, the Brazilians also have the added impetus of shaping up for next year's Olympic tournament in London.
In addition, with a World Cup on home soil three years away their budding starlets will also feel they can muscle into the frame for a place on the 2014 senior squad.
Under20 coach Ney Franco will have taken comfort from having passed the Spanish test while there is now no concern about Argentina adding to their tally after the albiceleste's exit on spotkicks to the Portuguese.
Brazil won the event in 1983, 1985, 1993 and 2003 but Franco is aware that the Mexicans are looking strong as "El Tri" try to go one better than their final loss in the inaugural event in 1977.
The Mexicans come into the meeting on a major psychological high after knocking out hosts Colombia but Brazil have proved their own mettle in the absence of Neymar and Lucas, who have already graduated to the senior squad.
"The Mexicans have a completely different set up compared with that of Spain," noted Franco, alluding to his rivals' propensity to play three at the back as well as in attack.
"We will adapt our team to the Mexican game - they are very competitive. At this stage there are no favourites," said Franco ahead of the meeting in Pereira.
Brazil's penalty prowess in seeing off the Spanish was in stark contrast to the seniors' flop at the Copa America when they failed to net any of their spotkicks in a quarter-final reverse against Paraguay.
Medellin will be the setting for the France versus Portugal showdown as the French look to secure a first ever passage to the trophy match at the expense of rivals who won the event, then known as the FIFA World Youth Championship, in 1989 and 1991 with their 'golden generation' of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Paulo Sousa.
French coach Francis Smerecki said he was now "hoping for a shot at the Cup."
He told reporters: "We know the Portuguese well - we've had them watched twice here."
At Medellin (2200 GMT kick-off)
France v Portugal
At Pereira (0100 GMT)
Brazil v Mexico