Uruguay's 'Lions' Den' motivated MU20s to victory, according to Devine
Ian Foster and Alfie Devine react to England men's under-20s' win over Uruguay at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina
England MU20s head coach Ian Foster hailed his side’s ability to handle the pressure of ‘the Lions’ Den’ during Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Uruguay, with midfielder Alfie Devine stating the partisan crowd provided the players with extra motivation.
The Young Lions faced Uruguay in neighbouring Argentina as part of the U-20 World Cup but Foster’s side did not let the thousands of vocal fans in attendance at La Plata Stadium get under their skin as they secured a 3-2 victory, which ensured England MU20s progressed from their group with a game to spare.
Foster said: “Today was a wonderful, wonderful challenge for us. We knew it would be a difficult game because Uruguay are a fantastic team with a lot of individual quality.
“As a team, they ask you questions time and time again but I thought we stood up to the challenge, we scored three good goals and we’re delighted to get the three points.”
He continued: “This [passionate crowd] is part of the World Cup experience for these younger players.
“The U-20 World Cup is to prepare the players for the senior team so to come here, in the Lions’ Den if you like, I thought the players handled the atmosphere particularly well.”
The match was fiercely contested from start to finish, with no shortage of niggly fouls and physicality.
Foster has developed a strong unity within the dressing room, a trait which was pivotal as the majority of the current squad helped the MU19s win the Under-19 EURO last summer.
When asked what impressed him most about the MU20s’ performance against Uruguay, Foster replied: “That we stuck together – the togetherness – that is the biggest thing which struck me about the team tonight.”
England led 2-0 at the interval thanks to Bashir Humphreys heading in Devine’s corner midway through the half, before the provider then scored himself with a fine low drive just before the break.
Uruguay pulled a goal back soon after the interval thanks to Franco Gonzalez to ensure a tense second period before Darko Gyabi guaranteed victory in injury-time, with Matias Abaldo grabbing a consolation with one of the final kicks of the game
With the top two and four best runners-up from the six groups progressing to the round of 16, and two groups being in a situation where the third-placed side could only now receive a maximum of four points, it means the MU20s progress to the last 16 despite still having their final group game against Iraq on Sunday.
Devine said: “It is massive for us to win. Going into the game, we knew the crowd wouldn’t be on our side and I think everyone dug really deep and I think we used it as an advantage to motivate us even more. Everyone did superbly.”
He continued: “[The crowd] motivated us more. Playing in front of a crowd like this, you know you are going to get it. I think we dealt with it really well.”
Report: England MU20s v Uruguay