FIFA U-17 World Cup: Germany, Brazil or England, all roads lead to national side | fifa-u17-world-cup-2017 | Hindustan Times
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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Germany, Brazil or England, all roads lead to national side

Be it major or lesser-known football nations, their FIFA U-17 World Cup teams have eyes firmly set on developing and delivering players to their senior national teams

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 17, 2017 23:45 IST
Rajesh Pansare
New Delhi, India - Oct. 16, 2017: John Yeboah (center) of Germany with team members celebrate3rd goal against Colombia during the U-17 World Cup Match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, India, on Monday, October 16, 2017. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/ Hindustan Times)
New Delhi, India - Oct. 16, 2017: John Yeboah (center) of Germany with team members celebrate3rd goal against Colombia during the U-17 World Cup Match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, India, on Monday, October 16, 2017. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/ Hindustan Times)(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

From keeping players grounded to developing them for the senior team, the FIFA U-17 World Cup has much more to it than winning the title.

Over the last two weeks, coaches have maintained they haven’t made the journey merely to lift the trophy.

Take the case of England, who are one of the favourites. Coach Steve Cooper isn’t thinking of just winning, despite the England side enjoying a glorious year.

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The Three Lions’ under-20s won the World Cup, U-19s were victorious in the European Championship, U-17s were runners-up at the Euro and U-21s made it to the Euro semis.

“There’s no doubt we have done well and it’s part of a long term plan to be successful in these tournaments. But our idea is to work towards the long term, towards the future. We want players to be playing and behaving in a certain way,” Cooper said.

GERMANY TARGET: DIE MANNSCHAFT

Germany have one of the best youth training programmes in the world and its sole aim is to produce quality players for the national squad.

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Christian Wuck, coach of their FIFA U-17 World Cup team, won’t be disappointed if they return empty-handed, continuing their barren run in the tournament. Germany walloped Colombia 4-0 on Monday to reach the quarterfinals.

“We don’t win many age group tournaments, but our first aim is to develop players for the first team. We start with the under-15s and all our work over the next five-six years is to make players available for Joachim Loew’s team,” said Wuck.

Wuck feels in the next few years some from his squad will play for the seniors. The first one to take the bow could be forward Jann-Fiete Arp, who has scored four goals in the tournament so far and has been courted by top European clubs.

CONFEDERATIONS CUP WIN PROVES POINT

This single-minded approach has paid Germany dividends for years with Loew having a vast talent pool to choose from.

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Germany won the Confederations Cup in July with eight players from the under-21 squad. A couple of days before the senior side’s win, a weakened under-21 side had won the European Championship.

Even for smaller nations like Guinea, who are still finding their feet in world football, it’s about developing players for the senior team.

Their coach Souleymane Camara said: “We have a lot of good under-15s, 17s and 19s in the country. Hopefully they will represent the senior squad in the coming years.”

BRAZIL, FAVOURITE OF SCOUTS

The pressure on Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu is enormous as scouts always keep an eye on youngsters from the country. Vinicius Junior is a classic example. His performance at the South American Championship drew attention, and the Flamengo player will soon set off for Real Madrid, who have already signed him.

Forward Paulinho and midfield lynchpin Alan De Souza Guimaraes are the other Brazil players on the radar of European clubs.

“There is always a lot of focus on Brazilian players. But the players have to focus on the competition as well. We always tell them if you play well, stay focused, your value will grow. But if you don’t think about the game and focus on what’s happening out there, your game will suffer and your value will go down,” Amadeu said.