We are in October and FIFA U-17 World Cup is literally few days away. All eyes will turn to India as it gets ready to host its first FIFA tournament.
The World Cup will be held across 6 cities – New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata – from October 6. India have been drawn in Group A alongside USA, Colombia and Ghana. The hosts face USA on October 6, followed by Colombia and Ghana on October 9 and October 12 respectively at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
But before the showpiece event kicks-off, here are 35 interesting facts about the FIFA tournament that you probably didn’t know.
1. Iran and Japan were the first two teams to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 while Niger and Mali were the last two to gain qualification for the tournament in India.
2. Three teams are making their debut in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 – Niger, New Caledonia as well as hosts India.
3. The first goal in the history of the tournament was scored by Brazilian footballer Bismarck, apparently named after the world famous politician Otto Von Bismarck.
4. Two sides have netted over a century of goals in the U-17 World Cup, namely Brazil and Nigeria with 166 and 149 respectively. Spain are on 97 and could reach the 100 mark in India, along with Mexico (97), Germany (92) and Ghana (86).
5. The longest winning streak in U-17 World Cup is of 7 matches. Four teams share the record – Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and Switzerland. Among those four, only Brazil and Mexico will feature in the 2017 edition of the tournament.
6. 14 -year-old Freddy Adu scored a hat trick in FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 and followed it up with a hat trick in FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007 to become the first footballer to achieve a hat-trick at the World Cups of both age levels.
7. Out of those who have played both the FIFA U-17 World Cup as well as the FIFA World Cup, Iker Casillas is the only Footballer who has won FIFA World Cup as a captain (in 2010).
8. Out of those who have played both the FIFA U-17 World Cup as well as the FIFA World Cup, Mario Gotze, Emanuel Petit and Andres Iniesta are the only three to have scored in a FIFA World Cup final.
9. If two or more players score the same number of goals, the winner of the Golden Boot, which is awarded to the player with the most goals at the end of the tournament, goes to the one with more number of assists.
10. The most attended match of U-17 World Cup remains the 2011 final between Mexico and Uruguay which was attended by 98,943 spectators at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
11. A total of 12 players who have played in FIFA U-17 World Cup have also represented their country in a FIFA World Cup final.
12. Nigeria has gone the longest in the tournament’s history without conceding a goal. From the 1987 tournament to the World Cup of 1993, they spent 830 minutes on the field without conceding a single goal.
13. New Zealand has been at the receiving end of some of the worst defeats in FIFA U-17 World Cup. They were beaten 13-0 by Spain in 1997, Brazil beat them 7-0 in 2007, Uruguay defeated them 7-0 in 2013 and Japan also defeated them 6-0 in 2011.
14. Souleymane Coulibaly(Cote d’ Ivore), Florent Pongolle (France) and Marcel Witeczek (Germany) are the only three men to have scored two hat tricks in FIFA U-17 World Cup.
15. The most goals scored in a tournament was in the UAE in 2013 (172 goals in 52 matches, with an average of 3.31 goals per match).
16. For the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, the family of Shibdas Bhaduri received the first ticket of the tournament from Carlos Puyol. Bhaduri was the captain of the Mohun Bagan team that won the IFA Shield in 1911.
17. Of the 22 associations that have qualified just once for the tournament, only Switzerland (2009) and the Soviet Union (1987) won the title at their first attempt.
18. Excluding the first edition of the tournament in 1985, the highest number of debutants was seven in 1987, 1989 and 2007.
19. Ghana reached the final four times in a row (1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997), winning twice (1991 and 1995).
20. Only Brazil and Nigeria have successfully defended their title: Brazil (1997 in Egypt and 1999 in New Zealand) and Nigeria (2013 in the UAE and 2015 in Chile).
21. In 1987, 1989, 1999 and 2007, the final was decided on penalties and on each occasion, a team from a different confederation came out on top. All other finals were decided in regular time.
22. Only twice have teams from the same confederation met in the final, with Ghana playing Nigeria in 1993, and Nigeria meeting Mali in 2015.
23. In the 2013 quarter-finals against Brazil, Mexico won the highest-scoring penalty shoot-out in the history of FIFA competitions. The end result was 11-10 to the Mexicans and 21 spot-kicks were scored from a total of 24 attempts, with the other three being saved.
24. Brazil, Germany, Mexico, USA, Guinea and Costa Rica are the only 6 nations in this world cup to have also participated in the inaugural edition of the tournament, when China hosted it in 1985.
25. In the history of the U-17 World Cup, Guinea were the first team to win a penalty shoot-out (beating Australia in the 1985 quarter-finals).
26. Ghana’s return to the finals ten years after finishing fourth in Korea Republic 2007 is the longest break between appearances among the 24 sides competing in India.
27. India are the 18th Asian team to take part in the U-17 World Cup. The last AFC representatives to make their tournament bow were Iraq in 2013.
28. More editions of the U-17 World Cup have been held in Asia than in any other continent. The campaign in India will be the fifth after those staged in China (1985), Japan (1993), Korea Republic (2007) and United Arab Emirates (2013).
29. USA are contesting their 16th U-17 World Cup and share the record for the most participations with Brazil.
30. Mario Gotze who starred in the 2009 U-17 became the only substitute in World Cup history to score the winning goal in the world cup final.
31. With 18 cards under their belt, Gambia holds the record for the most number of cards earned in the U-17 World Cup.
32. Florent Sinama Pongolle of France was the first ever U-17 world cupper to win the Golden Boot as well as the Golden Ball in the year 2001.
33. From 1985 to 2005, the tournament featured 16 teams divided into four groups of four teams. Since 2007, the tournament was expanded to 24 teams.
34. The matches of FIFA U-17 World Cup follow the basic rules of football, with two halves of 45 minutes each. However, there is no extra time at the end of 90 minutes and all knockout matches directly proceed to a penalty shootout, if needed.
35. Brazil’s Ronaldinho is the only player to win both the FIFA U-17 (1997) and the FIFA World Cup (2002) title.
The World Cup will be broadcast live on Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3.
Feature image: AIFF