For those looking for a sneak preview of the names that will light up World Cups and the UEFA Champions League in the near future it’s eyes down for a full house in Venezuela.
Scorching heat and searing ambition mark the Togel kick-off of the South American under-20 championships in the north-east tip of the continent.
From January 19th through to February 8th youngsters from the top 10 Latin American footballing countries will contest the championship. As well as aiming to achieve glory for their nations the players will also be hoping to leave their mark on the scouts in the stands.
A host of luminaries have already chosen the Suamericano tournament to showcase their talent to the world. Enzo Francescoli, Romario and Adriano have all topped the goal scorers chart at this prestigious championship.
With so much pride at stake the super-powers of South America never take this competition lightly. Brazil have won the tournament a record nine times, Uruguay have seven titles and Argentina have bagged four along the way.
This year’s championship will be contested in three stadiums throughout Venezuela. The three stadiums will be Puerto Ordaz, Maturin and Puerto La Cruz which were all put to use when Venezuela hosted the 2007 Copa America
Venezuela stepped in to host this tournament when Peru were stripped of their right to play host by FIFA last year due to political interference from their football association.
The competition’s format is two initial groups of five teams which play each other once. Group A is made up of Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and hosts Venezuela. Group B contains Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay. As with every group stage competition the championship has a ‘group of death’ and that tag is bestowed on Group B in Venezuela.
The top three sides in each group then proceed to a final group stage of six teams. The country on top after this six team round-robin will be crowded the 2009 South American under-20 champions.
Only the four top teams from the event will qualify for the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Egypt later this year. Seven of the last eight winners of this youth World Cup have been CONMEBOL sides.
In total the competition will feature a whooping 35 games, an ample dose for any football fan with an eye on the latest players to drop off the South American production line and into Europe’s top leagues.
The Albiceleste come into the tournament with a very strong pedigree. The winners of the under-20 FIFA World Cup in Canada two years ago have Argentina’s 2008 Olympic gold medal coach Sergio Batista in charge. Even though Franco Di Santo and Pablo Piatti have not been released by Chelsea and Almeria respectively the squad is still as strong as any at the competition. Batista was able to prize away Emiliano Insua, the left-back who was enjoying a …