Reaping The Benefits Of FIFA Under Age Tourney | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reaping The Benefits Of FIFA Under Age Tourney

Posted: Jun 15, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu , Lagos

The Flying Eagles at the ongoing FIFA U-2O World Cup may have stuttered against its German counterpart at the second round, but it may not have failed to achieve the objective of the Federation of Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in setting up the under aged championship.

Awoniyi and teammates

Awoniyi and teammates

The primary reason for the FIFA’s age group tournaments is to discover young talents and develop them, as against some countries placing high premium on winning the championship at all cost.

As a way of helping developing countries improve their facilities, FIFA has made it policy to always award the hosting of these under aged tournaments to developing countries.

The first FIFA World Youth Championship (now FIFA U-20 World Cup) was held in Tunisia in 1977 from June 27 to July 10, 1977. Since then, future football stars are being discovered through the FIFA U-20 championship.

Flying Eagles, which debuted in the tournament in 1979, started this year’s edition as one of the favourites because the bulk of the players for the championship were the boys who won the fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates two years ago.

In 1979 edition, which was hosted by Japan, Argentina emerged victorious, beaten Soviet Union 3-1 in the final. One youngster, Diego Maradona, finished as the tournament’s best player, albeit placing second in the goal scorer’s chat, behind countryman, Ramón Díaz. Maradona went on to become one of the best players that graced the fields in world football.

When Brazil won the tournament in 1983, one petit striker, Bebeto shone like a million stars. He was later to become instrumental to Brazil winning the World Cup 11 years after in the USA.

In the 1987 edition in Chile, two players, who later became outstanding in their careers, were discovered. Davor Sucker of the Yugoslovia, which won the tournament, and Mattiars Sammer of Germany shone in the championship. They duo were to later became global stars in the game.

Luis Figo led Portugal to win the 1989 edition in Saudi Arabia. He later won FIFA Balon d’or, winning several titles with club and country. Through that tournament, Mutiu Adepoju of Nigeria, who scored a brace in the quarter-final match against USA, was also discovered. Adepoju later played in several top club sides in Europe.

In 1993, players like Adriano, Pius Ndiefi of Cameroon, late Marc Vivien Foe, among others were unearthed. During the tournament in 1995, Australian Mark Viduka, Portugal’s Nani and Nuno Gomez, among others were the revelations.

The 1997 edition in Malaysia threw up players’ likeJuan Román Riquelme, David Trezequet and Thierry Henry.

Ronaldinho and Esten Cambiaso were discovered when Nigeria hosted the tournament in 1999. Also, Spain’s Pablo Aimer and Xavi Hernandez were thrown up at the championship in Nigeria.

When Holland hosted the tournament in 2005, Argentina won its third title through the singular efforts of Lionel Messi, who has subsequently ruled global football, merely waiting to win his fifth Balon d’or. This is contrary to Nigeria’s Mikel Obi, who participated in the same tournament but is currently battling for relevance in Chelsea.

From 1977 through these years, the FIFA World Cup has produced football stars that have gone ahead to make their marks in the game, leaving behind remarkable memories.

In the current Flying Eagles that was knocked out by Germany, Taiwo Awoniyi stood out as Nigeria’s top performer with his two goals and two assists. While Porto FC of Portugal was highly favoured to land his signature before the tournament, it was gathered that AS Monaco of France has upped the value of the youngster and is in the pole position to snap him from an academy in Lagos. That was on account of his performance at the New Zealand championship.

Awoniyi has been touted to replace Rashidi Yekini. In him, the tournament has thrown up another great star.