x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Fifa Under 17 World Cup: Budding stars yet to shine

Youth teams do not translate into senior success, but they hint at it, explains Paul Oberjuerge.

The official emblem of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup 2013, hosted by the UAE, will probably be forgotten by the time the players participating reach the top level of their sport. That is if they reach the top level of their sport.
The official emblem of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup 2013, hosted by the UAE, will probably be forgotten by the time the players participating reach the top level of their sport. That is if they reach the top level of their sport.

The beauty of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup is the knowledge you are watching future senior stars for club and country.

The delicious mystery is not knowing which ones they are.

Take, for example, Florent Sinama Pongolle.

In 2001 in Trinidad & Tobago, the forward scored nine goals, in seven matches, for the champions France, and was dubbed the "new Thierry Henry".

A long and distinguished career seemed likely as he joined Liverpool

It did not quite work out. He played once for France, and spent time with nine clubs, and had his moments … but he never again showed the form he had when he was 17.

At that same tournament, however, not making as big a splash, were the future global figures Andres Iniesta, Carlos Tevez, Fernando Torres, Pepe, Pablo Zabaleta and Niko Kranjcar.

Seven months hence, fans here will have the chance to watch the planet's elite footballing kids when the U17 tournament comes to these shores.

Among the 24 sides will be future World Cup or Champions League heroes. Most of the rest will have real football careers.

A few will fail to improve or will sustain a major injury, and all but disappear.

Youth teams do not translate into senior success, but they hint at it.

Spain have been second or third three times in the past five tournaments. Brazil have a first, second and fourth, Nigeria a first and a second, Germany two thirds.

For 23 days, beginning on October 17, football fans here will be able to watch future clasico and FA Cup stars.

After, they can sit around and talk about which ones they were.

 

CRUNCHING NUMBERS

2 - Previous appearances by the UAE in the tournament – 1991 and 2009

23 - Number of days the competition runs, starting October 17

24 - Number of teams competing; before 2007 only 16 teams played

52 - Matches to be played from group phase to third-place game and final

2003 - Year the UAE previously hosted an international Fifa event, the U20 World Cup


 

 

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