Friday, June 21, 2013

Africa’s record at Under-20 World Cup

Given the rich talent of the continent, African sides have perhaps underachieved at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in the past.

Only Ghana have won gold, something they achieved in the 2009 even hosted by and in which they were worthy winners, beating Brazil on penalties in the final.

The Young Black Stars have easily been Africa’s top performers down the years, with another two runners-up medals and a fourth-place finish to boot.

They lost to Brazil in the 1993 final played in Australia, the South American side winning narrowly 2-1.

There was more final heartache in 2001 when they again had to settle for silver, losing 3-0 to hosts Argentina. There fourth-place finish came in Malaysia in 1997 when they were beaten by the Republic of Ireland.
It was during that tournament that South Africa, appearing in their only junior World Cup to date, were ousted in the first round with losses to Brazil and France. They did manage a draw against South Korea.

Nigeria have had some success in the competition too, with two silver medals.
The Young Super Eagles lost 2-0 to Portugal in the 1989 final in Saudi Arabia, and in the Argentina in the 2005 event in Netherlands, going down 2-1.

The west Africans also claimed a prized bronze medal when they beat the old USSR on penalties in the 1985 third-place match that their opponents hosted.

Only two other African nations have picked up medals. Egypt claimed bronze in 2001 when they beat Paraguay 1-0, while Mali also have a third-place finish from their victory by the same scoreline over Uruguay in 1999.

The only other African side to reach the semifinals was Morocco, who achieved the feat in 2005, but lost the bronze medal match 2-1 to Brazil.

Africa do at least have one title winner, better than the confederations of Asia, North, Central America and Caribbean and Oceania.

The event has generally been dominated by Argentina (six wins) and Brazil (five), with the next most successful nation being Portugal with two victories.


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