Friday evening sees England Under 20s kick off their World Cup campaign and England’s final chance of silverware this summer.
After the Under 17s were knocked out of continental and international competitions, as well as the misfortunes of the Under 19s in qualification for the European Championships, Brian Eastick’s Under 20 side represent England’s last hope of glory this summer.
Colombia plays host to this year’s tournament and England will face Mexico, Argentina and kick-off against Korea DPR in the group stages.
Getting used to the altitude isn’t easy for the youngsters who only just landed in Colombia following a training camp in Denver, Colorado. It was here that they prepared with a friendly victory over Australia.
Interestingly, there is a lack of well-known youngsters in the England squad. The most noticeable player is Tottenham Hotspurs’ midfielder Dean Parrett.
Korea DPR are not known for their football but come with a “never-say-die” mentality. Jong Il-Gwan is their key player and will hope to go one step further than Korea’s last attempt in the tournament, where they narrowly missed out on qualification from the group stages. In qualification for this tournament they began by loosing 2-0 to Uzbekistan. However they turned that around by beating Iran and Bahrain to gain qualification.
Mexico look like a very strong side coming into the tournament. No less than fifteen of their players have already made their debuts in the Mexican top flight. In five games, they had a 100% record and scored 18 goals during qualification. This Mexico side will be no pushovers and will be a good bet come the latter stages of the tournament.
With six titles to their name, Argentina are the most decorated side in the tournament at Under 20 level. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Aimar and Juan Roman Riquelme have all played for this side that are synonymous with victory. Argentina qualified unbeaten and in first position during the group stage of their qualification campaign, a worrying statistic for the England camp. However they slowed down during the knock-out stages and ended up an eventual forth place. Juan Manuel Iturbe, a highly rated midfielder by The Youth Radar who will join FC Porto when he turns 18-years-old, looks to be England’s main threat from the Argentinians.
You can find full coverage of the tournament here on The Youth Radar with comprehensive match reports from all of England’s games and summaries of the rest of the tournament.