Next we head to the land of sun, sand, beaches and ofcourse football, Goa, which hosts Group C.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup is only a few days away and the enthusiasm amongst the football fans in India is at its peak. Goa is no different as fans here are eager to see quality football from the youth teams.
The tourist state is set to host the Group C matches from 7th October at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda. The group consist of teams like 2014 FIFA World Cup champions Germany, Central AmericanS Costa Rica, Asian Powerhouse Iran and West AfricanS Guinea who can be a surprise package in the group.
Before coming to the teams’ details, first let’s look at the stadium. the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa is also known as Fatorda Stadium. It was built in a record six months by the then Sports Minister Monte (D’) Cruz in 1989 as a Football only stadium, but later was opened for cricket also. After hosting nine One-Day International cricket matches till 2007, it has been once again transformed into a football-only stadium. It can accommodate around 19,000 fans with bucket seats but it has also witnessed more than 20,000 fans during FC Goa’s Indian Super League matches as the fans here can accommodate themselves in the smallest place available to watch their favourite team play.
Now let’s look at the teams in Group C as Khel Now brings you the detailed outlook on teams, their squads and a bit of an insight into their gameplay.
Germany will look to add another international trophy to their cabinet
Germany (West Germany then) were the runners-up of the first edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, China in 1985 following a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria in the final. Besides this, they have finished third in 2007 and 2011. While in 1997, Spain BEAT them 2-1 in the third-place playoff in Egypt.
Manager: Christian Wuck is a retired German footballer who has also represented his country at the U-21 level. The 44-year-old has also played for Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg in the 1999-2000 season. The German coach has the responsibility of the youth side since 2012 and in his debut year with the Deutschers, reached the final of the European U-17 Championship. However, they finished runners-up following a defeat against the Netherlands.
Road to World Cup: The Germans who have been associated with youth development, attacking football and precision ensured their qualification for the tournament through the UEFA U-17 European Championship earlier this year. Despite losing to eventual champions Spain in the semi-finals, Die Mannschaft gave a good account of themselves as they have so often done before.
The Colts scored 36 goals and conceded only six in their run-up to the match against Spain. The defeat to Spain, ironically, ensured their ticket to India where they will be pitted against Costa Rica, Iran and Guinea. The Germans, with their stellar record of making it to the knockout phases in the last three editions of the tournament will qualify as hot favourites to top the group.
Gameplay: The team relies on a standard 4-2-3-1 system that has become a template for German teams at all levels. With the reliable Luca Plogmann in goal who was beaten only six times till the defeat to Spain, the Germans have a solid presence between the sticks. Defenders Lars Lukas Mai and Alexander Nitzl have been a consistent presence in the team and will be the pillars at the back for the Germans.
The midfield marshalled by Kilian Ludewig and Sahverdi Cetin has allowed for the Germans to maintain solidity in an area of the pitch that is crucial to their attacking game. Ludewig, in particular, has been one of Wuck’s favourite players having appeared in all five matches in the U-17 European Championship.
The main focus will be on star striker Jann-Fiete Arp who found the net sevven times in five appearances for the Germans in the U-17 Euros. He will no doubt be the man Wuck looks to break opposition defences with his speed and dribbling abilities.
Goalkeepers: Luca PLOGMANN (SV Werder Bremen), Luis KLATTE (Hertha BSC), Marian PRINZ (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)
Defenders: Alexander NITZL (FC Bayern München), Pascal HACKETHAL (SV Werder Bremen), Dominik BECKER (1. FC Köln), Jan BOLLER (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Kilian LUDEWIG (RB Leipzig), Lars MAI (FC Bayern München), Yann BISSECK (1. FC Köln)
Midfielders: Shaverdi CETIN (Eintracht Frankfurt), Eric MAJETSCHAK (RB Leipzig), Elias ABOUCHABAKA (RB Leipzig), Yannik KEITEL (SC Freiburg), John YEBOAH (VfL Wolfsburg)
Forwards: Noah AWUKU (KSV Holstein Kiel), Jann-Fiete ARP (Hamburger SV), Nicolas KUEHN (RB Leipzig), Dennis JASTRZEMBSKI (Hertha BSC), Maurice MALONE (FC Augsburg) Jessic NGANKAM (Hertha BSC).
Costa Rica will look to surprise many with their unpredictable nature
Group C of the U-17 WC will see a rematch of the opening fixture of the 2006 World Cup when Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in what was the first glimpse of the new Germany. However, the Central Americans at the U-17 level are a completely different proposition as as they have never succeeded in crossing the quarter-finals stage.
Manager: Breansse Camacho is the head coach of the Costa Rican youth side. He took over from Argentine Marcelo Herrera back in 2016. Camacho has previously been in numerous roles as assistant and coach at other Costa Rican other age group sides.
Road to World Cup: Los Ticos as they are nicknamed won all their four games as hosts of the Central American qualifying zone to reach the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Their rich vein of form continued at the event in Panama where they sailed through the initial group stage with a 100% record seeing off Cuba, Canada and Suriname to reach the classification round. They were soundly beaten 6-1 by eventual champions Mexico but finished second courtesy of their slender 2-1 win over Panama and in the process advanced to India 2017.
Gamepay: The Costa Ricans are also advocates of the 4-2-3-1 system with 17-year-old custodian Ricardo Montenegro in goal shielded by the central defensive pairing of Faerron Tristan and Arce Gutierrez. Camacho’s trusted midfield pivot of Arias Sinclair and Sequeira Cruz started all five matches of the 2017 CONCACAF Championship at Panama including the heavy defeat to Mexico.
The front four of Alfaro Vargas, Christian Joel Salazar, AbarcaValverde interchange positions fluidly to support striker Cordero Gonzalez.
Goalkeepers: Ricardo MONTENEGRO (Deportivo Saprissa), Brandon CALVO (CF Universidad de Costa Rica), Kevin CHAMORRO (AD Carmelita)
Defenders: Fernan FAERRON(no club affiliation), Karin ARCE (LD Alajuelense), Felipe FLORES(LD Alajuelense), Felipe FLORES (LD Alajuelense)
Midfielders: Andres HERNANDEZ (Deportivo Saprissa), Amferny ARIAS (LD Alajuelense), Walter CORTES (Deportivo Saprissa), Christian MUNOZ (Deportivo Saprissa), Greivin FONSECA (Deportivo Saprissa), Ronnier BUSTAMANTE (CS Herediano), Josue ABARCA (CF Universidad de Costa Rica), Sebastian CASTRO (AD Carmelita), Alexander ROMAN (LD Alajuelense), Daniel CHACON (CSD Cartagines), Yecxy JARQUIN (Municipal Liberia)
Forwards: Mario MORA (Municipal Liberia), Julen CORDERO (Deportivo Saprissa), Jose ALFARO (AD Carmelita), Andres GOMEZ (CD Belén)
The African minnows will look to cause an upset in Group C
The Junior National Elephants were among the first three African countries which participated in the first edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup (FIFA U-16 World Championship) in China 1985, where they finished fourth. This is their best performance in any edition until now as they couldn’t manage to go through the group stage in their next three tries which include Scotland 1989, Ecuador 1995 and Chile 2015.
Manager: The West African country is managed by Souleymane Camara who was a former national team frontman. Also known as Abedi he has played for FC Sequence and was the head coach of first division side Satellite FC of Guinea.
Road to World Cup: Guinea will be the team to look out for when they will ply their trade in Group C of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India as the African team has proved their mettle in the Africa U-17 Cup of Nation 2017. They had held former two-time champions Ghana to a goalless and Cameroon to a 1-1 draw before drubbing Gabon 5-1 in their first match to qualify for the final four and also book their place in the youth world cup. While they have also defeated Niger who are another qualifier, in the third-place playoff.
Gameplay: Guinea are one of the most offensive teams in the tournament. The Africans ply their trade mostly with a 4-3-3 formation which tends to change into 4-5-1 or 5-3-2 depending on the counter-attacks of the opponent teams. An aerially strong unit, the Guineans are also very good at set-pieces. The team performs in what could be described as a Catalan style of football. A strong defensive midfielder shields the back four while two box-to-box midfielders go up and down along with the full-backs to provide support to the striker. The striker, paired with two wingers on either side rarely comes back to collect the ball, a task which is often done by the full-backs and central midfielders. The goalkeeper, however, is more like a sweeper than a traditional stopper who often come out to save the ball.
Goalkeepers: Ibrahima SYLLA(FC Mendy), Abdoulaye DOUMBOUYA (Académie Football de Conakry), Mohamed CAMARA (Académie Titi Camara)
Defenders: Samuel CONTE (Académie Horoya), Ibrahima SOUMAH (Académie Horoya), Cherif CAMARA (Académie Sainte Marie), Issiaga CAMARA (Académie Hafia FC), M bemba CAMARA (Académie AS Kaloum), Ismael TRAORE (Académie FC Séquence)
Midfielders: Sekou CAMARA (Académie Sainte Marie), Aguibou CAMARA (Académie Football de Conakry), Salia BANGOURA (Cefomig), Blaise CAMARA (Esperance Conakry), Elhadj BAH (Esperance Conakry)
Forwards: Fandje TOURE (Cefomig), Lape BANGOURA (Académie Football de Conakry), Doss SOUMAH (Cefomig), Djibril SYLLA (Académie Antonio Souaré), Seydouba CISSE (FC Attouga), Naby BANGOURA (Académie Sainte Marie), Aly SOUMAH (Etoile du Sahel)
The Asian powerhouse will look to make their mark in the tournament
The Iranians have made three appearances in the tournament in the past. However, they could not manage to make it past the group stage in their debut appearance in 2001 and also in 2013 but they made it through to the round of 16 in 2009 when they had defeated Gambia and European heavyweights the Netherlands in the group stage but suffered a defeat against Uruguay in the knockout round.
Manager: The Iranian Abbas Chamanian is the head coach of Nojavanan. The 54-year-old has 26 years experience of coaching and has also managed the U-20 side of his country on a couple of occasions. He was also with the U-16 side in 2003-04 when his side finished fourth in the AFC U-16 Championship. Chamanian was the head coach of Iranian second division club Naft Gachsaran FC before taking over the U-17 side in 2016.
Road to World Cup: Iran are a Asian powerhouse and qualified after making their way into the final four, drubbing Vietnam 5-0 in the quarterfinals of AFC U-16 Championship, which was held last year in Goa. They further defeated North Korea in the semi-finals but suffered a 4-3 defeat in the final at the hands of Iraq in a penalty shootout.
Gameplay: Another attacking side, the Iranians operate with a 4-1-4-1 formation which interchanges to 4-1-3-2 as the game develops. Despite being a sound attacking unit, the Iranians lack defensive stability, especially on the flanks which have cost them important points in the past. The ball is distributed by the holding midfielder, usually sideways towards the wingers who in turn cut in and deliver the ball to the striker or cross to build the play.
Goalkeepers: Ali GHOLAM ZADEH (Foolad Khuzestan FC), Mobin ASHAYER (Malavan Bandar Anzali FC), Amir JANIPOUR (Saipa Alborz FC)
Defenders: Ali SATAVI (Foolad Khuzestan FC), Ahmad JALALI (Foolad Khuzestan FC), Amir ESMAEIL ZADEH (Paykan FC), Majid NASIRI (Saipa Alborz FC), Taha SHARIATI (Saipa Alborz FC), Ali DAVARAN (Sanat Naft FC),
Midfielders: Amirhossein HOSSEINZADEH (Moghavemat Tehran FC), Mohammad SHARIFI (Saipa Alborz FC), Mohammad GHOBEISHAVI (Sanat Naft FC), Ali KOOSHKI (Sepahan FC), Vahid NAMDARI (Esteghlal Khuzestan FC), Mohammad GHADERI (Shahrdari Bandar Abbas FC), Sobhan KHAGHANI (Siah Jamegan Mashhad FC),Amir KHODA MORADI (Paykan FC)
Forwards: Allahyar SAYYAD (Saipa Alborz FC), Younes DELFI (Esteghlal Khuzestan FC), Saeid KARIMI (Zob Ahan Isfahan FC), Mohammad SARDARI (Esteghlal Tehran FC)
Germany 2-1 Costa Rica
Iran 1-0 Guinea
Costa Rica 1-1 Guinea
Iran 0-2 Germany
Costa Rica 1-3 Iran
Guinea 0-3 Germany
Germany and Iran are expected to go through the group stages being the top two teams. Costa Rica and Guinea are expected not to advance to the next stage if they indeed finish in the third and fourth places respectively as predicted.