The South American Under-20 Championships got here to a conclusion on Sunday with Uruguay and Brazil disputing the title. The continent’s different two slots within the World Cup at U20 degree, happening in Indonesia in May and June, had gone to hosts Colombia and Ecuador, and an enormous crowd gathered in Bogota to see who could be champions.
Uruguay wanted a draw. Brazil needed to win — and obtained it ultimately, although it took a very long time coming. The impasse was lastly damaged six minutes earlier than the top of regular time, and within the dying seconds Brazil added one other on the counter-attack to finish a 2-0 victory that had an air of inevitability about it.
This competitors has two foremost issues. One is that it not performed throughout a FIFA-sanctioned window. There isn’t any obligation on golf equipment to launch gamers. And with South Americans shifting to Europe at an ever-younger age, the variety of absentees is rising. There was a marked change from 4 years in the past (the 2021 model was cancelled due to the pandemic), and Ecuador felt it most. They had been the South American champions in 2019. As a consequence, European golf equipment have grow to be extra conscious of the excellence of their youth improvement work. More of their kids have been bought overseas, and among the better of them weren’t made out there for this event. Ecuador’s 2023 facet had been a poor comparability, and solely a win over Paraguay on the ultimate day carried them over the road.
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Many groups suffered from the absence of key gamers. Colombia misplaced star striker Jhon Duran on the eve of the competitors when he signed for Aston Villa. Brazil suffered greater than most, with even plenty of home golf equipment refusing to launch gamers. Coach Ramon Menezes needed to make 9 late adjustments to his squad. But then, with its large dimension, Brazil has an enormous expertise pool from which to pick. And they got here motivated. After amazingly lacking out on three of the final 4 Under-20 World Cups, they had been decided that this time there could be no errors. They had been match and prepared — and this made all of the distinction.
The second downside with the South American Under-20 Championships is a calendar bearing on madness. Nine video games in three weeks is definitely an excessive amount of of factor. The degree was aggressive. Even Peru, who misplaced all 4 of their group video games, had been by no means rolled over simply. The total second stage, the place the highest six sides confronted one another, didn’t comprise a single recreation the place the successful facet might take its foot off the pedal with, say, half an hour to go. The video games had been stuffed with reduce and thrust, and in the direction of the top of the competitors, it was clear that this was taking a toll.
Brazil performed their 9 video games in 25 days — the complete extent of the event. Uruguay performed theirs in 22 days. By the top a few of their key gamers — notably captain and midfield organiser Fabricio Diaz — had been fading quick. Brazil had been greater and sooner. After a cagey first half in Bogota, Brazil got here out firing after the interval, and the sport (and the title) boiled right down to a query of whether or not Uruguay might cling on.
They got here shut. Their pair of centre-backs held agency. One of them, Sebastian Boselli, gave a masterclass in dealing with Brazil’s hulking, proficient centre-forward Vitor Roque. At the opposite finish, Luciano Rodriguez, in all probability the participant of the event (and positively the invention, since he spent final 12 months within the Uruguayan second division) carried the specter of a objective on the counter. But the intense strain was all in Uruguay’s penalty space. And the decisive second got here when substitute left-back Kaique Bruno delivered a cross past the far publish. It reduce out each the centre-backs and allowed latest Chelsea signing Andre Santos to attain with a header guided intelligently again throughout into the far nook.
The group’s captain and midfield powerhouse, Andre Santos has additionally developed the welcome behavior of popping up within the opposition field to attain, and this was an important of all of the objectives he contributed to the marketing campaign. He and Vitor Roque, plus right-back Arthur, midfielder Marlon Gomes and keeper Mycael all enhanced their reputations in Colombia, as did Luciano Rodriguez, Boselli and Diaz for Uruguay. These are careers value watching. They, and others, will sit up for the prospect to shine in entrance of a world viewers in Indonesia — as a result of by far an important factor about Under-20 (and all age restriction soccer) is the event of gamers. Brazil can have fun successful the continental title, however it will likely be a decade from now, after we look again on the careers that it launched that we’ll actually be capable to decide who received the 2023 South American Under-20 Championships.