Two weeks ago, the cream of the world`s young football talent assembled in Mexico as the Under 17 World Cup was kicked off. Mexico entered the tournament as favorites because of their home advantage.
After progressing to the knockout phase, the hosts are by no doubt one of the favorites to win the event on the home soil though they still face competition to overcome the world’s best football countries like Germany, Brazil and emerging Japan.
Japan youth team have done brilliantly in both men and women competitions. Football in Japan has risen ever since the 2002 World Cup and has seen most of their talents on high demand around the globe.
Japan performed so well during the preliminary phase of the ongoing 2011 World Cup in Mexico. Japan has recorded unbeaten run ever since they entered the tournament and put up an emphatic win over New Zealand in the knockout stage.
Japan’s 6-0 routing of the Kiwis shows the high level of the game with the industrial Asian state. The recent rise of Japanese football can partly be attributed to the high level of infra-structure.
The availability of adequate training facilities has enabled proper build up of young and strong players. Most of Japanese players play tireless football with constant speed. Speed and endurance is one of the strongest points in all Japanese players.
Japan will play giants Brazil in one of the mouth watering encounters in the quarter final stage of this tournament. Brazil leads the world’s best soccer talents and they are three time winners of this tournament alongside Nigeria.
Brazil ever strong presence in all youth competitions also reflects the high level of sporting culture with the South American state. Brazil is the leading football nation in the world and are often favorites even at the youth world stage.
The Brazilians beat Ecuador during the last knock-out phase to set up a quarter final clash with Japan this Sunday.
Other top teams to mention in this tournament are Germany and Uzbekistan. Germany youngsters are flesher than ever. The young Mannshaft are also unbeaten in the tournament and have displayed good football in terms of technique, physical and tactical approach.
In Germany young players learn a lot of technical work at a tender age and concentrate on the physical work after 14 years.
The surprise package in the tournament so far is Uzbekistan, one of the football minnows in Europe but their display during the ongoing youth world cup is an insight to world soccer followers.
Uzbekistan has managed to beat Australia one of the tournament’s favorites by more than three goals. Even Brazil struggled to contain the Aussies as Uzbekistan and high contenders to win their quarter-final clash with Uruguay.
They play as a team with good technical and physical ability. Good youth development initiatives will Uzbekistan overtake some of the renowned countries like Italy on the world stage. Italy has good football league but their national teams are not performing to expectations.
A surprise package for many onlookers at this tournament was the arrival of New Zealand in the tournament. While the Kiwis are a nation not generally renowned for their football prowess, their under 17`s are a strong side who posed great challenge to many teams in this tournament.
In their opening match against Uzbekistan, New Zealand showed their undoubted class by running out as 4-1 winners in a match that featured a hat trick from midfield maestro Stephen Carmichael.
England was also amongst the pre-tournament favourites but their opening game served up a rather lacklustre display against Rwanda, who were competing in the tournament for the first time.
England did eventually triumph by two goals to nil, courtesy of strikes from Hallam Hope and Raheem Sterling but their overall display has not offered the team much confidence for the later rounds.
The USA is another side who has not particularly excelled at senior tournaments but have a strong side at this level.
To underline this point, they delivered a powerful display in their opening match against the Czech Republic. After a comfortable 3-0 win, experts were predicting a strong challenge from this US side.
Uruguay complete the South American threat and they too had an impressive start to their campaign, running out 3-0 winners over Canada and beating Congo during the knock-out phase.