The focus now turns to CONCACAF, with North and Central America and the Caribbean about to do battle for four berths at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019.
FIFA.com is on hand to preview the upcoming tournament, which will see teams looking to consolidate recent progress, others hoping for a return to former glories, and one aiming extend a winning sequence even further.
What you need to know
- Where: The IMG Academy, Florida, USA
- When: 1-16 May 2019
- Participating teams: 20
The road to Brazil began for the region on 16 March this year, when 16 teams sought to qualify for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship 2019. Divided into four groups, the top side in each section qualified directly for the last 16 of the tournament’s final phase.
Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guadalupe and Nicaragua topped their respective groups earlier this month to progress.
Now, another 16 teams from the region will be divided into four groups. Those occupying the top three places in each section will advance to the last 16. The four teams that subsequently reach the semi-finals will qualify for Brazil 2019.
- Group E: Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda
- Group F: USA, Canada, Guatemala, Barbados
- Group G: Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Guyana
- Group H: Costa Rica, Panama, Suriname, Curacao
Mexico, firm favourites
The defending champions start as obvious favourites as they seek to extend their regional dominance with a fourth consecutive title and an eighth in total. Furthermore, this is an age category in which El Tri have traditionally excelled, having already claimed the world title on two occasions (2005 and 2011) and finished runners-up on another (2013).
Haiti, 12 years on
After becoming CONCACAF champions in 2007, Haiti endured a difficult time, failing to progress beyond the qualifying group phase until this year. Now, though, they head to Florida high on confidence and intent on reprising the heroics of 12 years ago. By way of preparation, the Caribbean islanders toured Europe, where they beat Russia (3-0) and Romania (1-0), and drew with Cyprus (0-0), keeping their goal intact throughout.
Down to business.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) April 22, 2019
USA seeking to consolidate progress
It is no secret that the USA has spared no effort in the development of their youth teams in recent years. The national U-20 side recently won its second successive regional title, beating Mexico in the final. However, it is now eight years since their U-17s were last CONCACAF champions. With the appointment of former Swiss international Raphael Wicky as head coach, could the Stars and Stripes be the team to end El Tri’s hegemony in this category?
Los Canaleros seeking World Cup return
After qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2011 and 2013, Panama then missed out on the last two editions. Last year Gary Stempel took the coaching job with the specific task of getting the country back on the world stage. As well as delivering several championships at club level, Stempel also has the experience of leading the country’s U-20 side to their first World Cup back in 2003.
— FEPAFUT (@fepafut) April 28, 2019