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Fifa Under-17 World Cup: Slovakia rue errors in second round defeat

Ras Al Khaimah: Slovakia coach Ladislav Pecko blamed two early mistakes for his side’s 4-2 defeat to Uruguay in the second round of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup here on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Martin Junas came out of his area to clear a long ball before slipping to allow Leandro Otormin through to score after five minutes. The keeper then brought down Franco Pizzichillo inside the box to gift Kevin Mendez a penalty after half an hour.

Franco Acosta then headed a third for Uruguay before the interval and Otormin added his second before the hour, leaving Slovakia with too big a task to get back into the game despite late consolations from Tomas Vestenicky and Michel Siplak.

“This was exactly the match we were not dreaming of,” said Pecko. “The opponent was quick off the mark by two goals. In this moment the keeper has to keep the team together to make the best of the situation.

“We started the match from 2-0 down, but in the second half we showed we knew how to play football and we were better than the opponent even though we were losing. But we made two big mistakes and that cost us the match.”

Uruguay coach Fabian Coito said: “We started the game scoring very soon and that gave us a quick advantage. At half-time we were 3-0 up and that meant that in the second half Slovakia were more aggressive and desperate to score.

“We were a little worried about all our yellow cards from previous games, so we couldn’t be as aggressive. As a positive we held on to the win and progressed to the next round, but the negative was conceding two goals.”

Taking positives from his side’s run to the second round, Pecko added: “The most important thing is that we showed the young boys in Slovakia how far they can come. After this World Cup I hope the young boys will come back to the pitches, because this is the place where we were losing in previous years. We’ve shown them the way in football and that football has meaning.

“The goal was just to get here. We were in a tough group where two teams remain in the next round [Brazil and Honduras], so we showed good football. It was a good experience and I look forward to making the next World Cup with boys like this.”

Of star striker Vestenicky, who scored five in four appearances in this competition, Pecko said: “I hope we prepare him as well over the next three to four years to be able to score goals for the senior Slovakian national team and that he’s playing somewhere in Europe.”

Uruguay will now face Nigeria in the quarter-finals in Sharjah from 8pm on Saturday.