Preview: Close on the heels of staging the biggest upset of the tournament so far by thrashing contenders Germany 4-0, Asian powerhouses Iran, who have already qualified for the knockouts, will be high on confidence against Costa Rica in a Group C match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The 2016 Asian U-16 Championships runners-up have been in scintillating form in this edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup winning 3-1 against Guinea in the first game and then raising every eyebrows by beating Germany 4-0.
They seemed to have adjusted well to the conditions here and would stifle Costa Rica who have to win in order to stay afloat. They lost 1-2 against Germany and were held by Guinea 2-2.
After failing to qualify for the first eight tournaments, Iran competed at their first FIFA U-17 World Cup at Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, where they suffered three defeats and finished at the bottom of their group. Eight years later, the Asian side participated in Nigeria in 2009, where they advanced from their pool, but lost in the Round of 16 to Uruguay, 1-2 after extra time.
At UAE 2013, they again reached the knockout stages, but again came unstuck, losing 1-4 to Nigeria, the eventual winners of the competition.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, are playing in their tenth World Cup, with their most successful period coming in the four tournaments between 2001 and 2007, when they reached the knockout stages on every occasion.
Despite not qualifying for Mexico 2011 and UAE 2013, Los Ticos were successful last time out at Chile 2015, beating France on penalties to win a knockout game for the first time at the U-17 World Cup before bowing out to Belgium in the last eight.
In their match against Germany, Iran were in control throughout. It remains to be seen whether they can carry forward the form in the knockout stages as well but Costa Rica on the morrow have to punch above weight in order to get a favourable result.
Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 19:19 PM