Draw promises thrilling FIFA U-20 World Cup

Draw promises thrilling FIFA U-20 World Cup

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Draw promises thrilling FIFA U-20 World Cup

(L-R) Former Turkey players Hakan Şükür, Rüştü Reçber, presenter Defne Samyeli and coaches Mustafa Denizli and Fatih Terim stand on the stage during the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup draw ceremony in Istanbul. AA photo

Host Turkey is pitted in the same group with Colombia, Australia and El Salvador as the FIFA Under-20 World Cup draws were made on March 25.

The eagerly-awaited group stage draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 in the ballroom of the Grand Tarabya Hotel in Istanbul delivered the overture to this summer’s global showdown in Turkey.

The 24 competing teams learned the names of their opponents and the host cities for their group stage matches, including the pairing for the opening match on 21 June, when Cuba will meet Korea Republic in Kayseri. However, it the drawing of Spain, France and United States in Group A drew gasps from the neutrals in the audience.

“Turkey is an incredible footballing nation,” said Willy Sagnol. The former French international and current head of youth national teams for his country’s FA was particularly pleased that the U-20 version of Les Bleus would be playing in what he described as the “fantastic city” of Istanbul, despite the tough draw.

“We’re getting to be good friends with the Spanish,” he said to FIFA.com, referring to the fact that the countries’ respective full international teams were set to meet for the second time in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “Any tournament we take part in, we want to win,” was the former Bayern fullback’s conclusion.

England happy

England will face Iraq, Chile and the winner of the Under-20 African Championship being decided this week. Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria have reached the semifinals there.

England’s coach Peter Taylor seemed happy with his team’s draw, which will see them playing in Antalya.

“You get the feeling here that it’s going to be a really big, important tournament,” said Taylor. “I think this summer’s going to provide us with a lot of good attacking football. We’ll be working hard on scoring goals and hopefully making ourselves tough for our opponents. We’re really keen to get off to a good start and if we manage that, we could go a long way.”

Iraqi coach Hakeem Shakir, meanwhile, had mixed emotions, describing his team’s group as “very strong and very tough.” Mexico heads a group with Paraguay, Greece and an African team. Uruguay is with New Zealand or Fiji, Uzbekistan and Croatia.

Mexico’s coach highlighted a very interesting aspect of the draw. “It’s great – it means we’ll be up against teams with totally different footballing styles,” he said. “It means that tactics will be crucial – I can hardly wait for summer to come around!”

Uruguay’s director of sport Juan Verzeri made his wishes clear, saying: “I hope it turns out to be a footballing fiesta”, while Enrique Landaida, Paraguay’s coordinator for youth national teams, described Turkey as a “dream destination.”

Portugal, the 2011 runner-up, will play Cuba, South Korea and an African team.

Defending champion Brazil failed to qualify.

The tournament will be played June 21-July 13 in seven Turkish cities, Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon.

Groups and cities

GROUP A (Istanbul, Kayseri): France, CAF, USA, Spain.
GROUP B (Kayseri, Istanbul): Cuba, Korea Republic, CAF, Portugal
GROUP C (Trabzon, Rize, Gaziantep): Turkey, El Salvador, Colombia, Australia
GROUP D (Gaziantep, Trabzon): Mexico, Greece, Paraguay, CAF
GROUP E (Antalya, Bursa): Chile, CAF Champions, England, Iraq
GROUP F (Bursa, Antalya): OFC Champions, Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Croatia