May 23 – Poland will launch the U-20 World Cup against Colombia on home soil today as tomorrow’s stars compete for the world crown. Defending champions England failed to qualify for the tournament.
Two years ago the English lifted the U-20 World Cup in South Korea after defeating Venezuela 1-0 in the final through a goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin. In 2017 England also won the U-17 World Cup, but the English won’t be defending their title in Poland having lost 3–0 to Norway in a play-off for the final qualifying place at the 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Finland.
They became the sixth consecutive champions to fail to qualify for the next World Cup. While the English absence paves the way for a new champion, it won’t be Brazil, who alongside Argentina, are traditionally among the contenders for the title – the Brazilians didn’t make it out of the South American qualifiers.
Portugal and Serbia have each won the tournament twice. Ghana, Germany, Spain, France, England and Russia (as the USSR) have also been triumphant in the past.
Hosts Poland will be hopeful of a deep run in the tournament. They kick off their campaign against Colombia. Tahiti and Senegal complete group A. “We are focusing closely on Tahiti, a team we know absolutely nothing about,” said Senegal coach Youssouph Dabo. “This kind of opponent is always capable of springing a surprise.”
Mexico play Italy and Ecuador take on Japan in Wednesday’s Group B fixtures. The tournament will end with the final on June 15. It is the first time Poland has hosted a FIFA finals tournament though the country did co-host the Euro 2012 Championship and the 2017 UEFA U-21 Championship.
The U-20 World Cup was the brain child of former FIFA president Joao Havelange with the first iteration taking place in Tunisia in 1977 when the tournament was known as the FIFA World Youth Championship.
Group A: Colombia, Tahiti, Poland, Senegal.
Group B: Ecuador, Italy, Japan, Mexico.
Group C: Honduras, New Zealand, Norway, Uruguay.
Group D: Nigeria, Qatar, Ukraine, United States.
Group E: France, Mali, Panama, Saudi Arabia.
Group F: Argentina, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1569055573labto1569055573ofdlr1569055573owedi1569055573sni@o1569055573fni1569055573