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All you need to know about the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup

Thursday 5th October 2017
It's the international break and as you'd expect, there's that routine buzz about next year's World Cup. So much, in fact, many seem to overlook another showpiece that's just around the corner: the FIFA U17 World Cup in India. 

For many, it's just that biennial tourney in its 17th edition. But to the host nation, India, this presents a rare opportunity to make a lasting impression on the global stage. Especially when you consider that cricket, not football, has always ruled the roost in the Indian subcontinent. The FIFA U17 World Cup is an even bigger platform for the lads who are participating to launch their own careers, knowing scouts from the world's top clubs will be monitoring their progress.
With the opening ceremony edging ever closer, here's a lowdown on everything you should know about the event.

When is the U17 World Cup?



The showpiece will run from October 6th-20th, 2017.

Where will it be held?



India. The Asian nation was handed the hosting rights in December 2013, fending off competition from Azerbaijan, Republic of Ireland and Uzbekistan. It is the first time the world's second-most-populous nation will host a FIFA tournament.

What about the match venues?



Fifty-two matches will be played across six stadiums in different cities around the country:

Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata

DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi

Fatorda Stadium, Margao

Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi

Which countries have qualified?



A total of 24 teams qualified for the final tournament. In addition to India, the other 23 teams progressed from six separate continental competitions

Africa : Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger

Asia : India (as hosts), Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea DPR

Europe : England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey

Central, North America and the Caribbean : Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, USA

Oceania : New Caledonia, New Zealand

South America : Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay

Any debutants?



Yes. Three teams are making their first appearance at the event - Niger, New Caledonia, as well as hosts India.

Who're the defending champions?



Nigeria. However, the Golden Eaglets, record five-time champions, failed to make the cut this time.

What's the competition format?



All 24 teams have been divided into six groups of four. Top two nations from each pool, along with four best third-placed teams, will reach the next round of the competition. With 16 teams entering the next phase, all the matches are played in the knockout format.

Who are the favourites?



Brazil arrives in India with the favourite tag. In Nigeria's absence, the junior Selecao, with three titles, is the most decorated side. Albeit they will have to battle with Mexico, another, somewhat, dominant nation at the youth level.

What about the underdogs?



Forget they're the host, India head into the FIFA U17 World Cup as one of the underdogs. Yes, they may have the support of over one billion fans, but the country has never competed in a major football competition - expect them to stutter.

Some random facts



Iran and Japan were the first two teams to qualify, with Niger and Mali the last.

Only two sides, Brazil (166) and Nigeria (144) have netted over a century of goals in the competition's history.

The longest winning streak in the FIFA U17 World Cup is seven matches, a record held by Nigeria.

The most goals scored in a tournament was in the UAE four years ago (172 goals in 52 matches, with an average of 3.31 goals per game).

With 18, Gambia holds the record for the most number of cards earned in the U17 World Cup.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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