Wellington - While penalty shootouts can reduce even the
toughest of players to nervous wrecks, Senegal goalkeeper Ibrahima Sy believes
he has a "gift" for saving spotkicks, which could come in handy
against Brazil in Wednesday's under-20 World Cup semi-finals.
The 19-year-old emerged as a fan favourite early at the
tournament with his exuberant displays as Senegal's last line of defence and
his reputation was enhanced when he saved three spotkicks in a shootout against
Ukraine in the last 16.
That prowess may be put to the test against the Brazilians,
who advanced to the last four after shootout victories in the last 16 and
"I have a gift for saving penalties," Sy told
FIFA's website. "I can't explain it. It's just something I have.
"On top of that, it's such a boost to keep goal for
Senegal. I'm proud of that. I'm a true Senegalese, so I'm a warrior. I give
everything for my people."
While the West Africans are appearing at the tournament for
the first time, Brazil have won the competition five times and despite
unconvincing performances in the last two rounds will start as heavy favourites
in Christchurch on Wednesday.
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Rogerio Micale's side beat a defensive Uruguay on penalties
in the round of 16 and were outclassed by Portugal in their quarter-final in
Hamilton before the Europeans suffered an attack of nerves in the penalty
shootout with Raphael Guzzo, Andre Silva and Nuno Santos all missing from the
"They were better than us but, that being said, I don't
think anyone can say that we didn't deserve to go through," Micale said
after the quarter-final.
"Though we haven't had much time to work together,
we've still been able to push on and reach the last four, which shows the
quality of Brazilian football."
The winner of the match in Christchurch will meet either
Serbia or Mali in the final in Auckland on Saturday. The two sides met in the
group stage with Serbia winning 2-0.
The Serbs are making their first appearance at the
tournament as an independent nation, though Yugoslavia won the title in 1987
and Serbian defender Milos Veljkovic said that team was very much in their
"Everyone still talks about the Yugoslavia team that
won in Chile and we know how famous those players became," Veljkovic said.
"But although we want to do the same as them, we're not
feeling under pressure. We've already had a great tournament and we're just
enjoying every moment."For
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