Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Primer on the Under-20 World Cup

Colombia Under-20 World Cup Team players.
The day after tomorrow the Under-20 World Cup kicks off in Medellin with a match between England and the not-very-democratic Democratic Republic of Korea, better known as North Korea.

The U-20 2011 logo.

Spaniard Canales
This is Colombia's biggest-ever sporting event, and Colombians are hoping that it goes off smoothly to burnish the nation's image and put it into the running to host the 'real' World Cup. The competition runs thru August 20, in eight cities, and will showcase rising young players from some of the world's great clubs, such as Spaniard Sergio Canales of Real Madrid, Argentine Erik Lamela of A.S. Roma and Frenchman Gaël Kakuta of Chelsea. And this junior World Cup will probably produce future Messis and Maradonas.

Kakuta, of France.
Who will win? The Under-20 could give lesser-known football nations a chance to shine. While powers like Brazil, Spain and Argentina have dominated the tournament, the last U-20, Egypt 2009, was won by Ghana.  Some call Ghana's cup a good omen for Nigeria, which has lots of buzz around it, altho it disappointed in its recent friendly matches. Spain, Brazil and Argentina will contend, but football powerhouses Italy, Germany, Holland and Paraguay definitely won't raise the cup - none of them qualified, while football liliputians Panama, New Zealand and Guatemala did.

Playing at home, Colombia just might surprise.

But the best which Colombians can hope for is that the tournament goes off smoothly, unmarred by violence, with lots of exciting matches.

The U-20 tournament is participating in the Green Goal program, which means that it will plant some 35,000 trees to compensate for the event's carbon footprint.

Here's the schedule:

Ticket purchasing information is here:

Offering pay TV to watch the tournament.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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