Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets and their Brazilian counterparts are being tipped as likely winners of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup which kicks off today in Abu Dhabi.
Three-time title holders Brazil will kick off their group A campaign against the Slovaks, while hosts UAE will be treated to a rapturous reception when they take on Honduras in the group’s other game.
In group B, 2011 runners-up Uruguay will be hoping for a flying start when they meet New Zealand, and fireworks are expected as African champions Côte d’Ivoire take on an Italian side intent on lifting the trophy for the first time.
The match between Côte d’Ivoire and Italy will be the third meeting between the two at this tournament, with the current tally standing at a win apiece. The Baby Elephants had their best ever finish at a U-17 World Cup when they made their debut appearance at Canada 1987, beating Italy 2-1 in extra time to claim third place. Italy had to wait 18 years to take their revenge at Peru 2005, defeating the West Africans 4-3 in a goal-fest of an opening match.
The African champions will be relying on a solid defence led by goalkeeper Seck Diabagate and Franck Kessie. For his part, Daniele Zoratto is keen to be the first coach to claim the trophy for Italy.
It will be experience versus ambition as Brazil take on Slovakia in group A’s opening encounter. A seleção are looking for a fourth U-17 World Cup trophy to add to their collection, while the debutant Slovaks are competing in the tournament as an independent nation for the first time.
Second up in Abu Dhabi are hosts UAE, who will be hoping to notch an important victory in front of the large crowds that are expected to gather at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Their opponents Honduras are out for a historic first win at the tournament, vital if they are to progress further.
Ras al Khaimah plays host to the day’s other Group B game, as New Zealand look for revenge against the side that beat them 5-0 at the 1999 edition of the tournament. Uruguay coach Fabian Coito will be keen to claim three points before his side come up against the stiffer competition of Côte d’Ivoire and Italy.
In the last 28 years, teams from across the globe have jostled for supremacy at the biannual FIFA U-17 World Cup. The prestigious tournament began in 1985 in China PR, where Nigeria beat Germany FR to the title with a 2-0 victory.
The 13 competitions since have produced seven world champions. Soviet Union (1987), Saudi Arabia (1989), France (2001) and Switzerland (2009) have each triumphed once, while four nations have lifted the trophy several times. Nigeria (1985, 1993, 2007) and Brazil (1997, 1999, 2003) have been the most regular victors, followed by Ghana (1991, 1995) and current holders Mexico (2005, 2011), who won as hosts two years ago.
Who will be the team to beat this time? Can Nigeria or Brazil edge ahead in the all-time winners list? Or can one of the five newcomers (Iraq, Slovakia, Sweden, Venezuela and Morocco) follow Switzerland’s example of 2009 and go all the way in their maiden participation at the tournament? All these will be known when the final is played on November 8.
Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)