With Ukraine crowned as the U20 champions of the world this June, the attention of the youth football world has now turned to Brazil; which this October and November will be descended upon by fledgling superstars from every corner of the globe for the 2019 U17 World Cup.
What is it?
Held once every two years, the U17 World Cup is, alongside the U20 World Cup, one of two junior showcases organised by FIFA. First staged in China in 1985 as a U16 competition, it shifted to U17s in 1991 and was christened as a World Cup competition in 2007. Previously graced with talents such as Fernando Torres, Ronaldinho, Francesco Totti, Harry Kewell, Gianluigi Buffon, Toni Kroos, James Rodríguez and Neymar; 2019 will be the 18th iteration of the junior showcase.
Nigeria is the most successful nation in the tournament’s history with five wins and three runners-up finishes, whilst Brazil has won the cup three times and Mexico and Ghana twice. The Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, France, Switzerland and England have all lifted the trophy once.
England is the defending champion but failed to qualify for 2019.
Who are the hosts?
Peru was initially earmarked to host the tournament by FIFA in March of 2018. However, concerns over a number of organisational and infrastructure challenges in the South American nation led to football’s governing body making the decision to remove their hosting rights in February of 2019. Brazil was formally named as the replacement hosts the next month.
When is it?
Initially set to take place entirely in October, the move from Peru to Brazil means that the tournament will now take place from October 26 to November 17.
Where is it?
Five venues across four cities will host the tournament: the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasilia, the Estádio da Serrinha and Estádio Olímpico in Goiânia, the Estádio Bezerrão in Gama and the Estádio Kléber Andrade in Cariacica.
The Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, which was also used as a venue during the 2014 World Cup, will host both the first and final game of the tournament.
How does it work?
24 nations – hosts Brazil and 23 qualifiers – have been sorted into six groups for the tournament. Each group’s top two finishers will automatically qualify for the round of 16, as will the four best third-placed finishers.
From the Round of 16 onwards, contests that end without a winner after 90 minutes will go straight to penalties.
Did Australia Qualify?
Advancing out of the group stages at the 2018 AFC U16 Championships in second place behind South Korea, the Joeys secured progression to the U17 World Cup after defeating Indonesia 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
Also defeating Iraq and Afghanistan in the group stages, Australia nonetheless fell to confederation heavyweights South Korea and Japan during the tournament.
2019 will mark the first U17 World Cup that Australia attends since the closure of the FFA’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS. 13 members of the squad were active participants in the program the last time Australia qualified for the World Cup.
Currently ensconced in a 30-player training camp in the ACT, the Joeys will meet for one-further training camp in August before a final decision on their 21-player squad is made.
What’s Australia’s history at the U17 World Cup?
Australia has been to twelve of the seventeen iterations of the U17 World Cup but, since becoming eligible to qualify through the AFC U17 Championships, their strike rate for qualification has fallen to 50%: missing the 2009, 2013 and 2017 editions of the tournament.
Australia’s best-ever performance at the tournament came back when the side was still a member of the Oceania conference in 1999.
Coached by the legendary Les Scheinflug and featuring the likes of Jade North, Scott McDonald and Joshua Kennedy; Australia advanced all the way to the final of that that New Zealand hosted tournament before losing to a Brazilian side featuring Adriano on penalties in the decider.
In the Joeys most recent appearance in 2015, a side featuring Daniel Arzani, James Delianov and Panos Armenakas advanced to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers in the group stages; losing 4-1 to Germany in their opening game before taking a point off Mexico in a 0-0 draw and defeating Argentina 2-1.
However, their luck ran out in the knockout stages: dispatched 6-0 by eventual champions Nigeria.
Who else has qualified?
Japan, South Korea and Tajikistan qualified alongside Australia as representatives of the AFC at the 2018 AFC U16 Championships, which was won by the Japanese for the third time.
Cameroon qualified after winning the 2019 Africa U17 Cup of Nations, joined by vanquished semi-finalists Angola and Nigeria. Defeated finalists Guinea were initially set to join the three in Brazil but were disqualified by CAF after being found guilty of age-cheating. Instead, the Guineans will be replaced by Senegal.
It will be both the Senegalese and Angolan’s first appearance at a U17 World Cup.
2019 CONCACAF U17 Champions Mexico will gear up for their 14th appearance at the World Cup, joined by 17-time competitors the United States as well as Canada and Haiti.
As hosts, Brazil automatically qualifies for the tournament and will be joined by fellow South American sides Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Paraguay. Argentina enters as the confederations reigning U17 champions, claiming their fourth CONMEBOL title at the 2019 South American U-17 Championship.
New Zealand will represent Oceania for the ninth time in Brazil, alongside debutants the Solomon Islands.
In Europe, defending champions England became the second consecutive titleholder to fail to qualify for the next tournament; with the Netherlands, France, Italy, Hungary and Spain all set to represent UEFA in 2019. The Netherlands enter Brazil as the champions of the continent after defeating Italy 4-2 in the final of the 2019 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Head Coach: Guilherme Dalla Dea
One to Watch: Kaio Jorge
Previous Best: Champions (1997, 1999, 2003)
Head Coach: Andrew Olivieri
One to Watch: Simon Colyn
Previous Best: Group Stage (1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 2011, 2013)
Head Coach: Jose Manuel Figueira
One to Watch: Alex Paulsen
Previous Best: Round of 16 (2009, 2011, 2015)
Head Coach: Pedro Soares Goncalves
One to Watch: Osvaldo Pedro Capemba (Capita)
Previous Best: Debut
Head Coach: Manu Garba
One to Watch: Olatomi Olaniyan
Previous Best: Champions (1985, 1993, 2007, 2013, 2015)
Head Coach: Sándor Preisinger
One to Watch: Andras Nemeth
Previous Best: QF (1985)
Head Coach: Javier Rodríguez
One to Watch: Johan Mina Ecuador
Previous Best: QF (1995, 2015)
Head Coach: Trevor Morgan
One to Watch: Noah Botic
Previous Best: Runner Up (1999)
Head Coach: Kim Jung-soo
One to Watch: Jeong Sang-bin
Previous Best: QF (1987 and 2009)
Head Coach: Rafael Novaes Dias
One to Watch: Maudwindo Germain
Previous Best: Group Stage (2007)
Head Coach: Jean-Claude Giuntini
One to Watch: Adil Aouchiche
Previous Best: Champions (2001)
Head Coach: Cristian Leiva
One to Watch: Vicente Pizarro
Previous Best: Third Place (1993)
United States of America:
Head Coach: Raphaël Wicky
One to Watch: Gianluca Busio
Previous Best: Fourth Place (1999)
Head Coach: Malick Daf
One to Watch: Aliou Badara Balde
Previous Best: Debut
Head Coach: Yoshiro Moriyama
One to Watch: Jun Nishikawa
Previous Best: QF (1993 and 2011)
Head Coach: Peter van der Veen
One to Watch: Naci Unuvar
Previous Best: Third Place (2005)
Head Coach: David Gordo
One to Watch: Jordi Escobar
Previous Best: Runners-up (1991, 2003, 2007, 2017)
Head Coach: Pablo Aimar
One to Watch: Luciano Vera
Previous Best: Third Place (1991, 1995, 2003)
Head Coach: Zaynidin Rakhimov
One to Watch: Mukhriddin Khasanov
Previous Best: Round of 16 (2007)
Head Coach: Thomas Libiih
One to Watch: Stève Mvoué
Previous Best: Group Stage (2003)
Head Coach: Stanley Waita
One to Watch: Raphael Le’ai
Previous Best: Debut
Head Coach: Carmine Nunziata
One to Watch: Franco Tongya
Previous Best: Fourth Place (1987)
Head Coach: Gustavo Morínigo
One to Watch: Wilder Viera
Previous Best: QF (2009)
Head Coach: Marco Antonio Ruiz
One to Watch: Efraín Álvarez
Previous Best: Champions (2005, 2011)
Header Image Credit: FIFA