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Young blood
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 06 - 2005

Football's World Youth Championship is being played in Holland. Abeer Anwar looks at the tournament and its history
Egypt lost its opener to Germany 2- 0 at the start of the FIFA World Youth Championship in The Netherlands.
Though the Egyptians started strongly through Mahmoud Abdel-Razek, of PAOK Thessaloniki, the ejection of Abdallah Shahat and Mohamed Mahmoud provided the gaps Germany needed to score. Their first goal though came while the teams were of equal strength. Nicky Adler struck with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
Captain Shahat then collected a second booking and Mahmoud saw a red card for a brutal foul on Hampel, who looks out of the tournament with a broken shin according to an initial diagnosis.
In the second half, the Germans regained control of the midfield to physically dominate their opponents.
Reduced to nine men, the Egyptians were soon on the receiving end of a second goal by Marvin Matip of Cameroonian extraction.
"Obviously, I'm delighted with the result. It was a high tempo game, but there were a lot of errors. We were increasingly in control as the second half wore on. We deserved to win," Michael Skibbe, Germany's coach, said.
"We missed a string of chances in the first half," Egypt's head coach Mohamed Radwan said. "Our lack of experience counted against us. It was difficult after we had players sent off, and the Germans cleverly saw it through to the end. Congratulations to the German team."
Twenty four teams in six groups are playing in this 15th edition of the championship. Group A includes hosts The Netherlands, Australia, Benin and Japan; Group B -- Ukraine, China, Turkey and Panama; Group C -- Chile, Spain, Morocco and Honduras; Group D -- Germany, US, Argentina and Egypt; Group E -- Colombia, Italy, Syria and Canada; Group F -- Brazil, Nigeria, South Korea and Switzerland.
Egypt's first participation in the tournament was in Portugal 1991 where the team fell in Group C. They were eliminated in the first round.
Egypt's best result came in Argentina 2001, a third place finish. They drew with Jamaica 0-0, were trounced by Argentina 7-1, but then rebounded to beat Finland 2-1 to qualify to the 16th round and beat the US 2-0. In the quarter-finals, they beat Holland 2-1 but lost to Ghana 2-0 in the semis. In the third place playoff, they beat Paraguay 1-0 to win the bronze medal.
The first youth championship was held in Tunisia in 1977 and was won by the Soviet Union. Mexico was second, Brazil third and Uruguay fourth. A total of 70 goals were scored. With group winners qualifying directly for the semi-finals, the 1977 tournament holds the record for the least number of games played in a FIFA world youth championship: 28.
In Japan 1979, a quarter-final stage was added and the number of games increased to 32. Argentina proved unstoppable in this tournament, deploying their "toque" one-touch football to devastating effect. In the final against the Soviets they showed their mettle by coming from behind to win 3-1, with inevitable goals by the incomparable Maradona and Diaz. The tournament statistics speak for themselves: with 20 goals for and only two against, Argentina were worthy winners indeed. This tournament heralded the arrival of a truly exceptional talent -- Diego Armando Maradona who was named player of the tournament.
The USSR was second, Uruguay third and Poland fourth. Eighty-three goals were scored.
A typically efficient and organised German outfit lifted the trophy in Australia in 1981. A narrow win over Mexico (1-0), a shock defeat by Egypt (2-1) and victory over Spain (4-2) was enough to see them through to the quarter-finals, where they came up against host nation Australia. The final was another story, however, as Germany at last found a rich vein of form to brush Qatar aside 4-0 in the driving wind and rain. So another title was brought home to Germany a year after their illustrious elders were crowned European champions.
Eighty-seven goals were scored and Germany was named best attack with 12 goals.
Brazil ran out winners of the 1983 tournament in Mexico. In the final, Geovanni Silva's charges were up against old rivals Argentina in front of a 110,000 crowd at the Azteca Stadium
Brazil won 1-0 through a penalty kick. Brazil's Geovanni Silva finished as top scorer (six goals) and player of the tournament. Ninety-one goals were scored and Brazil, Argentina and Poland had a high 13 goals each.
In the USSR in 1985, Brazil became the first nation to win two consecutive championships when they triumphed over Spain 1-0. They crushed the Colombians in the quarters (6-0). Much-fancied Nigeria were next (2-0) before Spain went down fighting in the final.
Paulo Silas was voted the tournament's most valuable player for his role as passer and linkman between the lines of attack. Eighty goals were scored and Brazil had the most potent attack with 14 goals
The 1987 tournament in Chile was graced by a terrific Yugoslavia team. Mirko Josic's superb side lifted the trophy. In the first round alone they found the net 12 times in three games, and when the going got tough -- a goal down against holders Brazil in the quarter-final -- they raised their game to triumph 2-1. Again in the final they showed their pluck to win a penalty shoot-out against the West Germans. Composed Yugoslav Robert Prosinecki was chosen player of the tournament. Eighty-six goals were scored and Yugoslavia had 17 of them.
In Saudi Arabia in 1989, and for the first time in their history, Portugal emerged victorious. Most impressive was their victory over Brazil -- who had scored 11 goals in four games up until the intriguing meeting in the semis. Portugal may have only scored six goals in all, and four of their five wins did come by the slimmest of margins, but they made sure every strike counted, and a talented generation of footballers was born. Brazilian midfield supremo Faria Barreto Bismarck was voted player of the tournament and Brazil had the best attack with 14 goals.
In Portugal 1991, the Portuguese side retained their trophy on home soil. After breezing through the first round with victories over the Irish Republic (2-0), Argentina (3-0) and South Korea (1-0), the second round proved more laborious: a 2-1 win over Mexico was only achieved after extra- time in the quarters, and the 1-0 win in the semis over the plucky Australians was as close as the scoreline suggests. The final against Brazil was an equally nerve-wracking affair, and it took a penalty shoot-out to send the 127,000 home fans wild with delight. Portuguese defensive midfielder Emilio Manuel Delgado, or "Peixe", won the Player of the Tournament accolade. Eighty-two goals were scored and Brazil had 14 goals.
In Australia 1993, Brazil became the first team to win three championship titles after their triumphs in 1983 and 1985. In doing so they also brought the trophy back to South America for the first time since 1985. Against Ghana in a very open final, the Brazilian youngsters put in a gutsy display to come back from a goal down to clinch a deserved win (2-1). Brazilian Adriano was named player of the tournament. Eighty-two goals were scored and Brazil and Ghana shared the best attack title with 11 goals each.
In Qatar 1995, Argentina won the trophy. Some fine coaching by Pekerman also made a difference when it mattered: in both the semi-final and the final (2-0 against old enemy Brazil), his substitutes scored all-important goals. Again, Brazil's Ciao was named player of the tournament and Spain emerged as best strike force with 19 goals.
Argentina's José Pekerman's charges made it two championship titles in a row in Malaysia 1997, overcoming Hungary, Canada, England, Brazil, the Irish Republic and Uruguay along the way. Uruguayan Olivera was named player of the tournament in recognition of his two goals. A record 165 goals were scored and as usual Brazil had the best attack with 25 goals.
In Nigeria 1999, Spain put an end to South American supremacy, Brazil and Argentina having carved up the three previous tournaments between them. The Spaniards qualified from a tough-looking group which included Brazil, Zambia and Honduras, overcoming the Brazilians (2-0) with ease, drew with Zambia (0-0) and beat Honduras (3-1), before disposing of the US, Ghana, Mali and finally Japan in the final. Spain's Seydou Keita was named MVP. 158 goals were scored and Mali and Spain shared the best attacking title with 16 goals apiece.
In Argentina 2001, with a highly flexible 3-5-2 formation, José Pekerman's Argentina dominated from start to finish and ran out deserving winners of this tournament with seven wins from seven games. Pocket sized Argentine Javier Saviola's guile and clinical finishing made him the undisputed player of the tournament. A hefty 149 goals were scored. Argentina scored 27 times.
In the United Arab Emirates in 2003, Brazil defeated Spain to take the title for the fourth time with a 1-0 victory. A Fernandinho headed goal late in the day at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City stadium sent Brazil whooping and leaping to their fourth FIFA World Youth Championship title and left the Spaniards shaking their heads in dismay at what might have been. A new phenomenon at this level, Ismail Matar of the UAE, wowed all observers to clinch the much coveted Adidas Golden Ball for best player.


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