Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our Cups Runneth Over.
We Shall Not Want For International Footy

FIFA Under 20 World Cup Canada 2007

Last week the CONCACAF Gold Cup ended and the CONMEBOL Copa America began. Today begins the FIFA Under 20 World Cup, formerly known as the World Youth Championship. It is exactly the same as the World Cup except that all players must be born after January 1, 1987. This tournament showcases the best young talent in the world, and often identifies the next big thing, both individual and team-wise. For example, everyone knows about "the golden generation" of Portugal, but those who paid attnention to this tournament in 1989 and 1991 knew about their greatness even earlier: they won both tournaments and then went on to greatness at the senior level.

Canada is proudly hosting, and this is the most prestigious tournament they have ever held. As such, Scottish born and longtime Canadian resident Bobbeh McMahon is all over this tournament, with detailed group previews and analysis.

Unfortunately the 2 best 19 year old footballers on the planet are not participating: Lionel Messi is paying with the senior Argentina team in the Copa America, and Spain's Cesc Fabregas, now a regular on the senior international team, is not "stepping back down" to the youth level. He is resting to gear up for Spain's Euro2008 qualifying and Arsenal's upcoming season.

That being said, there is still a great deal of talent to be seen; personally I am hoping to check out Mexico's striker Carlos Vela, because he is an Arsenal player. He led Mexico to the Under 17 World Championship in 2005 and was the tournaments leading scorer as well. Here is Soccernet's list of players to watch as well as Bobbeh's list of stars from 2005's Under 17 World Cup that are returning and playing in this competition.

Incredibly, Argentina have won this competition 4 of the last 6 times it was played. Having never seen 90% of these dudes play, I am not in a position to offer a good prediction on a winner, I'm just hoping to check out some of these guys who in 2-3 years time will emerge on the world soccer scene as stars.

TV coverage is kind of all over the place, with Galavision, Fox Sports Espanol, and GolTV all showing some matches. I believe the USA matches are being shown on ESPNU as well. This is always a good place to start looking for what is on when.


They are off to a flying start, with Poland shocking 4 time champion Brasil 1-0 despite playing the last 63 miutes with only 10 men.

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