Ahead of the start of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup tonight with Brazil taking on Slovakia. John McAuley, who also wrote today about the UAE squad's hopes to make a formidable showing in the tournament, looks back at the past five opening games of the U17 tournament.
1. 2003, Finland 2-1 China: Finland kicked-started their home campaign with a victory at the Finnair Stadium in Helsinki, thanks to goals from Jarno Parikka and Tomi Petrescu. However, that would be the only win for the hosts, who were defeated 2-0 by Mexico and then thumped 9-1 by Colombia.
2. 2005, Peru 1-1 Ghana: A tough draw pitted Peru against the two-time world champions, and the side who had just finished as the second best team in Africa. Yet a Daniel Chavez penalty gave the hosts a dream start in Trujillo, only for a Miguel Cardenas own goal to gift Ghana a share of the spoils. Peru lost their next two games to bow out of the competition.
3. 2007, South Korea 0-1 Peru: A healthy 27,000 spectators cheered on the South Koreans at the Suwon Sports Complex as they set out to match their best result: the quarter-finals in 1987. However, a Carlos Alonso Bazalar strike on the half-hour condemned the home side to an opening-day defeat, with South Korean then losing to Costa Rica before vanquishing Togo. It was still not enough to progress.
4. 2009, Nigeria 3-3 Germany: If Nigeria were going to add to their three titles, they could not have envisaged a more difficult opening phase. Drawn against Germany, Argentina and Honduras, they first held Germany at Abuja’s National Stadium, despite going three goals down. They then won their next five games before losing the final to Switzerland.
5. 2011, Mexico 3-1 North Korea: The hosts started with a convincing win at Estadio Morelos in Morelia, with goals from Carlos Fierro and Giovani Casillas sandwiching a Korean own goal. Mexico finished atop the group, and a win over Uruguay in the final concluded their run as the only host nation to lift the title.