Under-20 World Cup Wrap Up
Victory for Argentina in the final game
By Michael Lewis
After winning yet another U-20 world championship in Toronto Sunday, another young generation of stars is ready to show the world what it can accomplish.
They players took several important first steps Sunday by winning Argentina's sixth U-20 World Cup titleand fifth out of the last sixin 17 tournaments. Not surprisingly, the Argentines did it with some drama and style. They rallied from a 1-0 deficit to record a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in front of a capacity crowd of nearly 20,000 at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada.
The young man of the hour and a half was striker Sergio Aguero, who scored the equalizing goal for Argentina two minutes after the Czechs drew first blood on Martin Fenin's 60th-minute score. Aguero didn't score the game-winner but he had a hand with Mauro Zarate's tie-breaking goal in the 86th minute. Besides, the 19-year-old striker already had left his mark and legacy on the tournament.
Aguero more than made up for his disappointment of failing to be included in Argentina's 2006 World Cup team by capturing the tournament's Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards, given to the best player and goal-scorer, respectively. He finished with six goals.
The 5-9, 151-lb. Aguero joined three other Argentine greats in the record books. Diego Maradona (1979), Javier Saviola (2001) and Messi (2005) also have won the Golden Ball.
"This was a very special tournament for meto finish as the top scorer and be named the best player and also to win the championship," Aguero said. "It will never happen again in my life."
"I'm excited to win the Golden Ball like [Maradona] did."
Aguero wasn't finished.
"This day means everything to me," Aguero said. "No doubt about it, it's the happiest feeling in the world. What more could I ask for? I've won the world title with Argentina, that doesn't happen every day."
It certainly doesn't. To put Argentina's amazing achievement into the proper perspective you have to remember that its men's side has won the World Cup twice in 18 tournaments--1978 and 1986.
"I'm thrilled with the result. In my 13 years working for [Argentina], I've won five world titles, although this time I had the coaching responsibilities all to myself," Argentine coach Hugo Tocalli said with a laugh. "This win is for all of Argentina."
"Although the Czechs played to a very high level today, I was always confident in my team's ability to turn the game around. It was a tough match, but we managed to get back into the game in time and enjoyed a happy ending."
The Argentines were near perfect on their road to the final. They forged a 6-0-1 mark as Aguero left his imprint in several wins. He failed to score in the opening-round draw with the Czechs, but rebounded with a pair of goals in a 6-0 triumph over Panama and added another in a 1-0 win past South Korea to close out group play. He added more two goals in the 3-1 second-round victory over Poland. After going scoreless in the 1-0 quarterfinal win over Mexico and the 3-0 semifinal victory over Chile, Aguero found himself in the final.
"We knew it was going to be a difficult game and that they were going to defend, but at no time did we despair," he said of the championship game. "In the end, we managed to bring a lot of joy to all Argentineans. I think all the goals I scored here were nice, but today's meant the most, as it went a long way towards securing us the title."
The U.S., which was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Austria, had placed midfielders Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake) and Michael Bradley (Heerenveen, the Netherlands) among the top 27 players of the tournament, named by FIFA's Technical Study Group. Forward Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls) took fourth place among goal-scorers.