The 17th edition of the U17 World Cup takes place in India, the first FIFA tournament held in the country, and only the 4th one held on the Asian continent. These articles provide a guide for football enthusiasts on each of the participating 24 nations.
Note that all information below has been provided/written non-exclusively by the official local organizing committee of the U-17 World Cup 2017.
FIFA U-17 World Cup record: After failing to qualify for the first eight tournaments, Iran competed at their first FIFA U-17 World Cup at Trinidad and Tobago 2001, where they suffered three defeats and finished bottom of their group. Eight years later, the Asian side participated in Nigeria 2009, where they advanced from their pool, but lost in the Round of 16 to Uruguay, 2-1 after extra time. At UAE 2013, they again reached the knockout stages, but again came unstuck, losing 4-1 to Nigeria, the eventual winners of the competition.
Road to India: Iran topped Group A at the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship, due to their enjoying a better goal difference than second-placed UAE. They then made certain of their place at the U-17 World Cup by comfortably disposing of Vietnam (5-0) in the quarter-finals, before beating Korea DPR in the semi-finals via a penalty shoot-out, following a 1-1 draw. In the final versus Iraq, which failed to produce a goal after 120 minutes of football, the Iranians were involved in another shoot-out, but this time ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline (3-4).
The Coach: Abbas Chamanyan coached a number of clubs prior to being handed the reins of the Iranian U-20 national team in 2002. The following year, he took charge of the U-17 team for the first time, guiding them to a fourth-place finish at the 2004 AFC U-17 Championship. Although he did not manage to qualify his charges for the 2005 U-17 World Cup, the 53-year-old tactician returned to the helm in 2016 and subsequently oversaw their qualification for India2017 via the AFC U-16 Championship.
The Stat: 4 – The number of Iranian players who scored a total of three goals at the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship. Ali Reza Asadabadi, Allahyar Sayyad, Mohammad Sharifi and Mohammad Ghaderi scored 12 of the 13 goals recorded by Iran in the competition, with Amir Khodamoradi bagging the 13th.
FIFA U-17 World Cup record: Guinea are making their fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance at India 2017. Along with Nigeria and Congo, Le Syli Cadet (‘Junior National Elephants’) were one of the first three African sides to take part in the competition, recording two wins, two draws and two defeats en route to finishing fourth at China 1985. Four years later in Scotland, they missed out on a place in the second round, despite finishing the group phase unbeaten with three draws. The Guineans fell at the first hurdle again in their third tournament appearance at Ecuador 1995, beating Portugal but losing to Argentina and Costa Rica. The Junior National Elephants suffered another first-round exit two years ago in Chile, where they drew 1-1 with England and lost 3-1 and 1-0 to Brazil and Korea Republic, respectively.
Road to India: Guinea showed mental strength in reaching India 2017. Drawn against Morocco in the second round of qualifying for the 2017 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, the Guineans came from 1-0 down in both legs before advancing on penalties on Moroccan soil. After negotiating the third round, they kicked off the continental finals in Gabon with a 5-1 victory over the host nation. A 1-1 draw with Cameroon and a goalless stalemate with Ghana secured them a place in the last four, and with it, a trip to the world finals. Beaten 2-0 on penalties by Mali after another goalless draw in the semis, Guinea then secured third place with a 3-1 win over Niger.
The Coach: Souleymane Camara owes his nickname ‘Abedi’ to his admiration for Ghana legend Abedi Pele. A former playmaker himself, Camara boasts an excellent reputation in Guinea, having enjoyed a long and successful career as a player-coach, during which he won two national cups with FC Sequence. The coach of Guinean first division side Satellite FC since December 2016, he has put together a fine U-17 national team at the same time, one that is now hoping to make its mark on the global scene following its exploits in the continental finals.
The Stat: 6 – Aside from finishing third at this year’s U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, Guinea left Gabon with another accolade to their name, as Djibril Fandje Toure finished as top scorer with six goals to win the competition’s golden boot award.
FIFA U-17 World Cup record: Although Germany are not regular participants at FIFA U-17 World Cups, they can nevertheless look back on considerable success at the competition. They have been eliminated by the eventual champions in three of their last four appearances. In 2007 Germany lost 3-1 to Nigeria in the semi-finals, were beaten 4-3 after extra time by Switzerland in the last 16 two years later, and slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Mexico in the last four in 2011. Still, they won bronze at the latter tournament and in 2007. Germany were knocked out by Croatia in the round of 16 in Chile two years ago.
Germany have appeared at a further five U-17 World Cups, including a fourth-placed finish at Egypt 1997. Furthermore, the German Democratic Republic reached the last eight at Scotland 1989. The greatest success enjoyed by a German team at an U-17 World Cup was at the inaugural tournament in China PR in 1985, where they finished as runners-up.
Road to India: Germany performed as a compact unit throughout the entire qualifying campaign and recorded seven victories from as many games up until the European Championship semi-final, scoring 36 goals and conceding just six. The only time they failed to hit the target was in their last-four clash with eventual champions Spain, who won 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
“In terms of attacking play, this is the best group of players I’ve ever had during my time working in youth football,” said coach Christian Wuck after the U-17 EURO. “We set a new scoring record and still managed to concede the joint-fewest goals alongside England. And when it comes to attacking, these guys, who were born in 2000, have unbelievable speed and a good scoring record. Now they’re all raring to go at the World Cup, they can’t wait. One thing is clear: this squad has got what it takes to win a title and we’ll give it another go in India.”
The Coach: Wuck has worked as a coach at the German Football Association since 2012, taking charge of the U-16s and U-17s, among others. Under his charge Germany reached the final of the UEFA U-17 European Championship, which they lost 4-1 to France. At the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, Wuck’s team lost to Croatia in the last 16. As a player Wuck made more than 100 Bundesliga appearances for Nuremberg, Karlsruher SC and VfL Wolfsburg.
The Stat: 17 – The number of goals Germany scored in five games at the European qualifying tournament, with Fiete Arp alone responsible for seven of them. No other European team found the net as frequently.
FIFA U-17 World Cup record: India 2017 will represent Costa Rica’s tenth appearance on the global stage at U-17 level, with their most successful period coming in the four tournaments between 2001 and 2007, when they reached the knockout stage on every occasion. Despite not qualifying for Mexico 2011 and UAE 2013, Los Ticos were successful last time out at Chile 2015, beating France on penalties to win a knockout game for the first time at the U-17 World Cup before bowing out to Belgium in the last eight.
Road to India: Costa Rica won all four games as hosts of the central American qualifying zone to reach the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on a hot streak. Once at Panama 2017, they coasted through the initial group stage, with another 100 per cent record, defeating Cuba, Canada and Suriname to reach the classification round. Despite suffering a heavy 6-1 defeat at the hands of eventual champions Mexico, Los Ticos finished second courtesy of their slender 2-1 win over Panama, and in the process advanced to India 2017.
The Coach: Breansse Camacho took the reins of his country’s U-17 side in 2016, taking over from the Argentine Marcelo Herrera, who he had assisted at Chile 2015. Camacho has held numerous roles as assistant and coach in the various Costa Rican youth sides, notably heading to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 as part of the coaching set-up.
The Stat: 16 – The number of goals that Costa Rica scored without reply in four matches in central American qualifying for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, where they went on to score 11 more in five games.