Story by Adamu Benin Abdul Karim
The 18th edition of the FIFA U-17 world cup is currently ongoing in Brazil with 24 teams from six continents.
The teams qualified for the world cup through different continental championships.
Host nation, Brazil, secured automatic rights to compete by hosting the tournament while 23 vacancies are left to be filled by teams from Asia, Africa, Central, North America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania and Europe. The remaining teams competed in their various continental championships to secure their tickets.
The Asian teams played the 2018 AFC U-16 championship to determine which teams go to Brazil. Japan secured their spot by emerging victors of the championship with Tajikistan as runner-up while the other two berths were occupied by Australia and South Korea.
In Africa, the 2019 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations is the medium of qualification with also four slots to occupy. The semifinal quartet of Cameroon, Guinea, Angola and Nigeria secured qualification as winners, runner-up, 3rd and 4th positions respectively.
Following completion of the tournament, CAF removed Guinea’s results from the competition for fielding players with passports which had a different date of birth to those the players had used in the U-16 age restricted ‘International Dream Cup’ in Japan. Senegal was given the remaining place at the U-17 World Cup for having placed behind Guinea during the group stage.
The 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship was also the routine tournament for teams in Central, North America and the Caribbean. They had four slots to fill as well with Mexico and USA qualifying as champions and runner-up while Haiti and Canada also went through as semifinalists.
CONMEBOL presented Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador via it’s 2019 South America U-17 championship as winner, runner-up, 3rd and 4th positions respectively making up their four berths as well.
Oceania, allocated two slots, is proudly represented by New Zealand and Solomon Islands as winners and runner-up of the 2018 Oceania Football Confederation U-16 Championship.
Lastly, is the European representation in Brazil. The 2019 UEFA U-17 championship is the pathway to Brazil with five slots up for grab. The Netherlands qualified as outright champions, Italy as runner-up while Spain and France completed the semifinal quartet. There was still one last gasp spot to fill. A World Cup Play Off match was played between Hungary and Belgium and Hungary piped Belgium to make up for the fifth European representative summing up the 24 team tournament.
The 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil will is being played from 26th October to 17th November, 2019.