Panama’s first seeding to the FIFA U-17 World Cup was just a few years ago, in 2011. The squad—who are also strong magnets to Asian bookies—competed very well in their group, winning most notably over Burkina Faso. The success brought them to the knockout stage of the tournament, only to be eliminated by the eventual winners, Mexico. This year, the Panamanian players will prove that they can be serious threat to the form of their opponents. Team boss Jorge Dely Valdes pledged that he will do everything to prepare his players to their best so that they will be in their prime condition when they tackle the tournament.
Panama | Image source: fifa.com
This will be Morocco’s first outing to the championships, and although they are greenhorns to the World Cup turf, they are certainly not an easy target. In fact, they are also newbies to the African U-17 Championship but they were absolute show-stoppers after winning the majority of their battles. While they were inferior to the eventual winners, Ivory Coast, they were nevertheless more equipped than Tunisia, Gabon, and Botswana. The side have a strong brood of young players, dubbed by coach Abdellah El Idrissi as a “complementary squad.”
In 2001, Croatia embarked on their maiden journey to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. They were seeded opposite the host nation, Australia, and Brazil. While they won over Trinidad and Tobago, the side failed to advance to the next round. Australia and Brazil were just too massive of an adversary that Croatia succumbed to their strengths. Now that they have won again a ticket to the finals, the side are eager to show to the world how much they have improved since their last appearance in the competition. The troupes have been staggeringly good en route to the World Cup, remaining undefeated in all six games of the qualifying and elite stages.
Uzbekistan made it to the top eight in the most recent edition of the U-17 World Cup in Mexico. The success is still evident in the current squad’s determination to repeat or outclass their performance in the said competition. Under the guidance of Dilshod Nuraliev, the team celebrated a continued domination in the Asian pitch. Uzbekistan were runners up of the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship, and were declared winners in the tournament’s 2012 edition. However, their sojourn in the qualifying rounds for the finals this year took them in a roller coaster ride. They faced immense challenge against equally strong squads such as China and Korea Republic. Nevertheless, the Uzbeks were spirited enough to hold on to their belief and take away the continental honor.