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Football: England slump to opening defeat

ENGLAND WERE beaten 1-0 by the United States in their first match at the World Under-20 Championship in Kano, Nigeria, yesterday.

The only goal of the Group E match was scored after 10 minutes by Dan Califf, who converted a pass by Francisco Gomez. From then on, England, who play Cameroon on Thursday, were thwarted by the American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, who had a fine match.

Cameroon began their campaign with a 2-1 victory over Japan and look set to become one of the two teams to advance automatically to the second round from the group. The four best third-placed teams from the six groups will also go through.

Japan took a surprise lead over Cameroon in the 51st minute when Naohiro Takahara slotted the ball past the Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, who is listed as the youngest player in the tournament at 15. But generally Japan were outclassed by Cameroon's Indomitable Lion Cubs, who produced dazzling footwork and dribbling skills, and won the match with two goals from Gaspard Komol, the winner coming in the dying seconds.

In Group F in Calabar, Gabri Garcia de la Torre scored both goals as Spain beat the three-time champions, Brazil, 2-0. He scored from the left corner of the penalty area in the 15th minute, and combined with Pablo Gonzalez to complete the scoring in the 33rd minute.

In Group D in Enugu, Mali were reduced to 10 men but beat the 1997 runners-up, Uruguay 2-1, Mahamadou Dissa snatching the winner with a cheeky chip in the final seconds.

WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP (Nigeria): Group D (Enugu): Mali 2 Uruguay 1; Portugal 2 South Korea 0. Group E (Kano): Cameroon 2 Japan 1; England 0 United States 1 (Califf 10). Group F (Calabar): Zambia 4 Honduras 3; Spain 2 Brazil 0.