Chileans overcoming travel

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

On the field, Chile has made its journey through the early stages of the U-20 World Cup look relatively easy.

It is the travel itinerary that has presented some challenges for the talented South American side.

The Chileans wrapped up first place in Group A last night at BMO Field with a 0-0 draw against Austria, a contest that was far more entertaining than the goose eggs suggest.

And now another long flight to Edmonton awaits -- a fourth such journey in a little more than a week -- before meeting Portugal in a Round of 16 clash on Thursday.

Even though they will be considered a serious contender entering elimination play, Chilean coach Jose Sulantay worries about the grind on his boys.

"The long distance is a big problem," Sulantay said through an interpreter. "It's bad timing. (The players) don't eat regularly and it's been difficult to play well."

Those beefs aside, the results suggest otherwise.

After opening group play with a 3-0 win over the host side on Canada Day, the undefeated Chileans hauled their gear to Alberta where they blanked Congo by the same score.

It was back to Toronto last night for a hard-fought draw with the technical European side which also went through undefeated and will face Gambia next.

By the time the race cars had vacated Exhibition Place following yesterday's Grand Prix of Toronto, both squads were assured of moving on. To their credit, they still put on a show for a pro-Chile full house of 19,500 at BMO Field.

Chile held an edge in scoring chances early, including a bullet shot to the top left by Gerardo Cortes in the 34th minute that Austrian goalkeeper Bartolomej Kuru punched aside.

Chile suffered a loss when captain Carlos Carmona pulled a hamstring. He may be done for the tournament.

Meanwhile, Toronto will be the most visible venue leading to that title match at the Exhibition Place pitch. The U.S. and superstar Freddy Adu are next up kicking off Round of 16 action Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. against Uruguay.


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