Kolkata: Two-time winners Mexico will be hot favourites when they take on Asian champions Iraq in a Group F FIFA U-17 World Cup engagement at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here on sunday.
Mexico lifted the Cup twice (2005, 2011) and reached the semi-finals in the last edition of the tournament, losing to eventual champions Nigeria.
The 2017 CONCACAF U-17 champions were the last of the four teams in the group to arrive in the city and looked sharp in training. Their pedigree was visible in the confidence of the players and coach Mario Arteaga.
Mexico are one of the four sides in this edition of the tourney to have pocketed the crown previously. The other three are Brazil (2003), Ghana (1995) and France (2001). Defending champions Nigeria failed to qualify for the finals.
"We are here to create new history. What has happened in the past is in the past," Arteaga said in his first interaction with journalists after flying in to the city.
The El Tri, as they are popularly called, will bank on Jairo Torres who has not only made his senior debut for Mexican side Club Atlas, but also starred in their CONCACAF U-17 Championship win scoring three goals in the process. He was adjudged the best player of the tournament.
What makes Torres a threat is that he isn't just a goalscorer; he's a team player who can create and dictate the course of play.
Coming to Iraq, the Asian powerhouse can spring a surprise especially with the weather conditions not too alien to them as it is to their North American counterparts.
Iraq U-17 team have been in form too winning the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship in Goa last year.
At the World Cup stage though, they are thin on experience having featured in just the 2013 edition where they finished last in Group F.
Iraq lost all three of their matches, against Sweden, Mexico and Nigeria, the teams that eventually claimed first, second and third place in the tournament.
The Iraqis had then lost to Mexico 1-3.
Iraq will pin their hopes on Mohammed Dawood who netted six goals in the U-16 AFC meet, including a hattrick against Japan in the semi-finals.
Mexico: VActor DAaz, Cesar Lapez De Alba, Cesar Rafael Ramos Becerra; Alan Luevanos, Luis Olivas Salcedo, Oscar Gatica, Carlos Jimenez, AdriAin HernAindez, Sergio Lozano and RaAl Zavala; Luis Avila, Carlos Zavala, Alexis Torres, Diego Leyva, Deivoon Rico, JesAs Alvarez and Marco Antonio RuAz Zarco; Jairo Torres, Roberto GonzAilez, Cesar Valera, Daniel Valdez.
Iraq: Ali Ibadi, Mustafa Zuhair, Abdulazeez Ammar Defenders: Ammar Mohammed, Maytham Jabbar, Muntadher Mohammed, Muntadher Abdulsada, Abdulabbas Ayad, Mohammed Al-Baqer, Ali Raad; Habeeb Mohammed, Saif Khalid, Mohammed Ridha, Abbas Ali, Bassam Shakir, Mohammed Ali (Al Nagda), Moamel Karim, Ahmed Sartip; Mohammed Dawood, Ali Kareem, Alaa Adnaan