Argentina's goal is more offence

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

It takes two to tango.

And Argentina hopes Panama will be a much more willing dance partner when FIFA U-20 World Cup play resumes tonight at Frank Clair Stadium.

For the five-time champions, Saturday's opening match against the Czech Republic -- a 0-0 draw -- was an exercise in frustration. While Argentina held a massive 22-2 margin in shots, it often struggled to find the space it desired to operate.

"It's very hard to play when your opponents put so many players in defence," star Argentina striker Sergio Aguero said afterward. "We knew it was going to be like that, and that they wouldn't give us any space. But that's something we have to work on."

Coach Hugo Tocalli is confident his side can find the necessary finish around the net tonight (7:30, GolTV).

"Our strikers missed chances they usually put away, but I'm confident that won't happen in the games to come," he said. "All that was lacking, really, was the final touch."

EXPECTED TO BREAK LOOSE

While the prevailing opinion is that Argentina should break loose against upstart Panama, Tocalli isn't looking past the Central American foe.

"There are no weak teams at this point," he said. "We're not going to find it in this group and we're not going to find it if we advance."

Tonight's early match between the Czechs and North Korea (4:45 p.m., GolTV) is critical if either hope to move beyond the group stage. Only the top two in each of six groups are guaranteed berths in the second round. Four third-place sides get wild-card spots.

North Korea, which has one point after playing a 0-0 tie with Panama on Saturday, surely doesn't want to leave the opportunity to qualify for the second round hanging on Friday's game against Argentina.

"(Tonight's) match is very important for our team ... to proceed to the next round," North Korea coach Jo Tong Sop said through an interpreter.

While the Czechs were happy to take away a point from their match with Argentina, they also know a victory at some point is imperative if they are to move forward. They don't want to wait until their final group match Friday against Panama in Montreal.

"If we beat North Korea, we can (advance)," said coach Miroslav Soukup. "We will play more offensive football because we want to win."

JUST THE TICKETS: FIFA announced that nationwide ticket sales for this U-20 World Cup cracked the one-million mark on Canada Day. The first nine games were all played in front of sellout crowds. "What we are seeing here is beyond our wildest expectations," said FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who will be in Ottawa today. Now within sight is the all-time record of 1.15 million, set in Mexico in 1983.


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