|The U17 World Cup - all on one long page:
(please be patient until it is fully loaded)
- the group matches
- the quarter-finals
- the semi-finals
- the final
- the continents successes compared - some statistics 1991-2001
- the outlook: what can be expected of these talents
Group1 (Sep 14, 16, 19):
Trinidad and Tobago - Croatia 1:2
Australia - Brazil 0:1
Brazil left a strong impression but needed 75 minutes to break the resilience of the Aussies
Trinidad and Tobago - Australia 0:1
Croatia - Brazil 1:3
Croatia left a very good 1st half impression but were outscored in the second half by the Brazilians.
Brazil are qualified for the quarterfinals while Australia and Croatia will batlle out the second place in the direct encounter on Wednesday. The hosts are already without any chance to reach the quarter finals.
It has to be hoped that this will do no damage to the very good atmosphere of the competition.
Brazil - Trinidad/Tobago 6:1
In a match without impact on who would advance Brazil entertained the 26,000 crowd with some showtime. #7 scored three goals in which all of the 7 substitutes of the last match were in the starting line-up. (The squads for this U17 World Cup consist of 18 players each)
Croatia - Australia 0:4
Another strong match by the Aussies and a surprisingly clear result. After a balanced midflield duel the match suddenly slanted in favour of the Australians in the final 8 minutes before halftime when Australia scored twice.
1. Brazil 10:2 goals, 9 pts.
Group2 (Sep 14, 16, 19):
1. Nigeria, 8:1 goals, 9 pts.
Group3 (Sep 15, 17, 20):
1. Argentina 9:4 goals, 7 pts.
Group 4 (Sep 15, 17, 20):
1. Costa Rica 5:2 goals, 6 pts.
Brazil - France 1:2
Despite the fact that France had conceded 6 goals in the group matchjes, Brazil stuck to their controlled and careful approach of unspectacular football of their fiirst two matches.
This proved to be no good idea because neither did Brazil threaten the French goal much nor could the Brazilian defence entirely contain the spectacular Le Havre and future Liverpool duo Le Tallec and Semina Pingolle. And it were those two, Florent Simana Pingolle with his 8th goal and Le Tallec, who provided for the 2:0 halftime lead within a few minutes late in the first half.
Before and after the intermission the frustrated Brazilians made some nasty looking late challenges. It took until the 57th minute before Brazils idea of long through ball counter-attacking exposed a first big hole in the French defence but Bruno missed the goal close. A similar situattion led to Alberonis 1:2 after 70 minutes. France became nervous but until the last minutes Brazil stuck to their gameplan and had only a big opportunity through Anderson after 86 minutes, again a counter situation.
The remaining time provided total excitement for the crowd. Now Brazil pressured and immediately chaos ruled the French defence. Huge opportunities on both sides as Brazil now had exposed their defence to the French counters.
But somehow no team scored and France advanced to the semis.
Nigeria - Australia 5:1
Outstanding Australian goalkeeper Nathan Coe had only conceded one goal in three matches and it was him who denied the flamboyant Nigerians a score in the first 25 minutes. The Australian compactness could not stop the Africans and eventually a penalty beat the Australian Number 1 for the Nigerian lead.
But after the goal the picture suddenly changed. The Australians proved great attacking skills and worked out one chance after the other what gave the Nigerian goalkeeper Akpan Bassey opportunities to prove his quality, too.
Towards the end of the half the momentum shifted back in favour of Nigeria who at times displayed an almost perfect combination of individual skills and cooperative approach when in ball possession. Remarkable the usage of the width of the field in the build up of their attempts.
The second half saw a loss of precision in the Nigerian game. Substitute Victor Brown entertained the Australian defence on some occasions but all in all Nigeria played more drawn back, preventing from successful Australian attacks. So for 25 minutes only half chances culd be seen on either side until Victor Brown drew several defenders by his solorun and side passed to the now unmarked #11 Femi Opabunmi who scored his second goal.
Australia had their first real second half chance then, following a defenders slip, but the shot rolled wide.
A fine drawing board attack was finished through Femi Opabunmi by a header for his third goal in the 81st minute and decided the match before captain Suleiman Mohammed added a fourth spectacular goal by a solorun and a sharp shot into the corner.
The Australian resistance had broken and Nigeria added another in style in the 85th when #16 Temile shot a cross directly under the bar from 15 meters.
The Nigerian keeper missed a cross then to allow Australia a consolation goal by a header (88th).
Argentina - Mali 2:1 after golden goal extra-time
Excitement that you can get only (?) in such a tournament when great talents meet the weak spots in unperfect defences.
Mali taking apart the Argentinian defence and Argentina expoiting the Malian offside trap - it could have been 3:3 early. But talents are no machines.
After 30 minutes Argentinian big hope Maximiliano Lopez cleverly crossed the path of a defender and got a foul on him for a penalty. He send the keeper into the wrong corner but only hit the goalpost.
Mali enthusiastically answered with a handful of attacks and a fine goal when #17 Drissa Diarra was played free to score by a header after 34 minutes - 0:1.
Diarra is under contract at Lecce (Italy), the only notz homebased player of the Africans.
Mali, unconcentrated, allowed Argentina to equualize only 4 minutes later from a set play: a free kick cross from the right found the unmarked #4 Rodriguez to head into the goal easily. - 1:1
One of the most conspicious Malian players #7 Lassana Diallo was lucky to get away with yellow for what looked like a retaliation and Argentina had the better of the rest of the half.
Around the 60th minute Mali created several chances, featuring the already mentioned Diarra and Diallo. Despite that domination Argentina always seemed capable to become dangerous themselves again at some moment. And Mali started to look a little tired in the course of the second half, losing one to one challenges they had won before. #7 Diallo, obviously exhausted, committed a holding far away of the own goal and received a harsh second yellow card to leave the pitch in tears.
Now Argentina dictated the pace and worked out opportunities. Lopez was well contained by the Malian defence but the Argentinian pressure mounted as Mali played more and more drawn back.
Mali only with few counters had a good looking free kick opportunity in injury time which they executed terribly like many corners before.
In the extra-time necessary Argentina scored the golden goal when the Malian keeper had left his goal in bad timing and a cross from the wing where he had run out to was sent into a crowd before the empty goal. The ball bounced back to substitute #11 Fanari who fired it under the roof of the goal from about 10 meters distance - 2:1
Costa Rica - Burkina Faso 0:2
In front of an again very positive and enjoying crowd a match of much less quality than the encounter before.
(matches are played as doubleheaders - two games in succession in the same stadium) Disappointing Costa Ricans hardly came close to the Burkinabé penalty area. On the other side the relatively unsinspied Africans improved from their last match but despite two thirds possession did not work out any clearcut chances.
Nevertheless it was a success of the Costa Rican tactics, which allowed no spaces for the Africans to penetrate into on the expense of an abandoned own attacking approach. The Burkina Faso individuals like Madi who had impressed in the match(es) before had no impact.
But somebody had to have an opportunity sooner or later and it more or less could only be Burkina Faso who scored after 55 minutes.
A rather bad clearance by the Costa Rican defence rolled to the feet of #17 Landry who was unmarked at the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball home. - 0:1
It took until 15 minutes before the end until Costa Rica gave up their strategy and started to attack. The game now broke open. #11 Wilfried Sanou then scored the second Burkinabé goal in the 84th minute.
Only in the 89th minute Costa Rica came really close to scoring but was denied twice by the Burkinabé keeper.
A fair game without any yellow cards.
Burkina Faso will now play heavy favorites Nigeria in the semis on Thursday.
(An opportunity to recall that of Burkina Faso and Mali only one team would have been here if Guinea had not been disqualified by FIFA from all competitions because of government inteference with FA affairs at the very time the African U17 Championship had taken place. Burkina Faso then had slipped into the African final as replacement for Guinea against whom the team just had lost in the semi-finals. In the final they clearly went down to that Nigerian team 0:3).
France - Argentina 2:1
France who had not been to a semi-final at this level before went into the match as favorites after several sparkeling attacking displays during this tournament. But in the quarter-finals Argentina had already proved to be a team who are smart in finding ways to beat seemingly superior opponents.
And the first minutes suggested that those skills would be needed here, too.
France pinned the South Americans back into their penalty area and several goal scenes were the result.
But Argentina defended desperately and almost took the lead themselves after 20 minutes at a set play - a free kick cross found Walter Garcia who volleyed the ball centimeters across the bar from close range.
In the following Argentina was more successful to keep the game in midfield and to become dangerous on some occasions, especially from set plays. Yet it was rather Teves than Lopez who had attempts on goal.
Le Tallec had the only big opportunity by header for France during this period ('37, across the bar).
- ('49) a through ball on Carlos Teves, the defender (#4) is already between him and the ball, but the energetic Teves surprises him, wins the ball and scores - 0:1
- ('56) a long cross on Le Tallec and the defender can not prevent him from heading the ball into the net - 1:1
- ('59) France immediately try to profit from the Argentinian shock and pressure - a corner finds #3 Berthod unmarked who scores by a diving header - 2:1
France, fired up, continued to pressure, and had more chances. In the 73rd minute Florent Simina Pongolle fired the ball against the bar from where it bounced to the ground from where it bounced up to the bar again and back on the ground. The first time it seemed to have crossed the line but the shot was sharp and fast and neither referee nor assistant had seen a goal, so the match went on with only the one goal margin between the teams.
In the last 15 minutes Argentina played more open what lead to several good counter situations for France. On the other side Lopez worked out a good free kick situation but hit the ball into the wall ('85).
In the 90th minute some players lost their nerves and the referees had all work to seperate the players. Two French remained on the gound, treated for some minutes, one player seemed to have been hit severly into the eye.
The referee showed a red card to Maximilano Lopez.
Argentina had almost been successful in injury time when a header after a free kick cross hit the crossbar.
Nigeria - Burkina Faso 1:0
Both defences with a shaky start, allowing header opportunity within the first two minutes.
In the third minute Burkinabé defender Amadou deflected a cross with his arm and a hand penalty was the consequence. #11 Opabunmi sent the keeper into the wrong corner - 1:0
Goal scenes on both sides were following including a huge chance for Nigerian Opabunmi who blasted a bar over the bar, unmarked and with free way to the goal, from 10 meters distance ('9).
After 10 minutes the match calmed down as both teams achieved more defensive control.
Nigeria had a good opportunity after 32 minutes when a player could make a header unmarked after a free kick cross, it rolled wide.
Burkina Faso had more of the ball but could not get through to make real threatening goal attempts.
In the final minutes of the first half Nigeria tested the Burkinabé keeper twice with strong shots from about the edge of the penalty area.
-('49) Nigeria: Sambo 17 meters distance, fires wide by centimeters
-('52) Sambo has another opprtunity from inside the penalty area but does not hit the ball right, shoots far wide
-('53) a rare opportunity for Burkina Faso but the Nigerian keeper plucks the ball from Sanou's feet
-('54) Nigeria: some excitement after a long ball on Victor Brown. He can get past the keeper but has been drifting too far on the left hand side and defenders can build an effective shield preventing from a goal attempt
-('59) Nigeria: Victor Brown conquers the ball close to the goal but cannot get off a precise attempt. The Burkinabé counter is once more blocked by the Nigerian defence
-('63) A Nigerian counter has the Burkinabé defence outnumbered. They play it well into the back of the defenders but Sambo's shot is denied by a great save of the keeper
-('67) Nigeria: One of Eromoigbe's impressive long throw-ins is headed on by Brown to Temile who kicks it over the bar
-('70) Burkina Faso have a counter opportunity. But they lose the advantage in the chase towards the goal and the shot is eventually blocked.
-('73) Burkina Faso: impressive long range free kick by #14, perfectly saved by the good Nigerian keeper Bassey
-('84) Nigeria: Shaibu, who has come on as a substitute, is free with a chance but his shot is too weak. He had scored in all group matches but had not played in the quarter-final, probably due to an injury
-('87) Nigeria: Shaibu breaks through but the keeper wins the one-on-one situation
-('88) Shaibu tries again, the keeper solidly saves the low shot
-('90) Burkina Faso defender Kanoute tries a dangerous bycicle kick close to the head of a Nigerian and sees a yellow card for dangerous play - it is his second, he has to leave
-good defensive work by the Nigerians (including midfielders running back) denies Burkina Faso any more chances
The final will be a rematch of France-Nigeria, the first group match
3rd place playoff
Sep 30 1930 GMT Argentina - Burkina Faso 0:2
Burkina Faso were leading 1:0 at half by a Landry goal but Argentina came out of the intermission playing attacking football. Then Wilfried Sanou was brought on as a substitute and to have a big impact on the game. An Argentinian player was sent off against him and minutes later he connected with Hanoch Conombo for the second goal on a fine counter attack. The rest of the match was dominated by the Africans who could have added further goals with more concentration.
final score 0:3 - France are Under 17 World Champions
don't take this stats too seriously - the decisions in group C and D have been too close to read too much tendency into the records. The Asians, who weren't too far behind in suffered a disappointment, maybe a sign of growing professionalism in the education of young players in the rest of the world, maybe only an accident.
Oman, a youth football power since years ago, had reached semi-finals in 95 and quarter-finals in 97. Qatar had reached semi-finals in 91 and quarter-finals in 99, Japan had reached quarter-finals in 93.
*=each confederation hosted one tournament
**A good example that you cannot directly attach such percentages to the strength of the Confederations, because they have different structures:
Australia qualified for quarter finals each time when at start, New Zealand, the only other team, never, not even as hosts.
On the other hand European and African associations cannot gather experiences - because of the huge number of strong teams there are new faces each tournament
What can be expected of those teams in the future?
We have seen bright stars like Sinama Pongolle or Le Tallec. We have seen players who have suggested their huge potential like Maximiliano Lopez or Fernando Torres, great defenders (man of the match award for example for Walter Garcia, Argentina or Jaques Faty, France. Will they be the stars of tomorrow?
It is difficult to say as the past is indicating. Players
have different development curves which cannot be compared necessarily.
Some teams achieve something by a common effort while in other teams talents
alone cannot transform the squad into World Champions.
More examples can be found in the Under 20 World Cup.
Here even more names of later stars should be found. But here as well you
can find similar opposite examples.
More factors are important for later development than
only talent and a level at a certain age. While 1991 World Champion Nii
Lamptey seems to have not developed any further a man named Eric Carriere
has made it into the World Champions France line up to replace the absent
Zinedine Zidane at the 2001 Confederations Cup.
Many Nigerians have considered themselves at the top of
the world after winning the 1996 Olympics. The names of their opponents
might have been the same on adult level later in clubs and in country,
but many Argentinian, Brazilian, and European players are now a class ahead
than they were at under 23 level.
So while winning a youth tournament goes down to a reduced
number of important factors, the long term careers of the players
are a product of those early skills multiplied with a lot of other factors
including the ability to learn and improve on the field.
This might explain to some point why some winning teams disappear completely while others have produced big names. It should be very interesting to investigate upon the TRUE selection philsosophies of the coaches and comparing those who have produced champions with almost no later impact to those which have had selections who featured future stars.