For the first time in 17 FIFA U-17 World Cup tournaments, two European teams will face off in the World Cup Final. Pre-tournament favorites Brazil won’t be there, and African favorites Mali were dumped out simultaneously, a match away from reaching their second consecutive final.
It will be England vs Spain and a new U-17 World Champion is assured to lift the trophy.
The first ever World Cup to be hosted in India has been a scintillating success already, with more than 63,000 fans filling up a jam-packed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata for the blockbuster England vs Brazil semifinal. The crowds have been fierce throughout the tournament, and the record could well be broken for a world age-group tournament during the Final scheduled on October 28th this Sunday at the Salt Lake Stadium. Hosts India put on a brave show in their group, eventually losing all their 3 matches in their first ever football World Cup at any level. In doing so, they equaled the worst-ever host performance by a footballing nation – with Canada (1987) and Trinidad & Tobago (2001).
Here are some fascinating U-17 facts to munch on before the Final:
This will be Spain’s fourth U-17 World Cup Final. They have never won the tournament. They have finished in the top 4 five times.
Spain hold the U-17 record for the maximum goals ever scored in a tournament match. They slammed home 13 against New Zealand in 1997.
This will be England’s first U-17 World Cup Final. This is only their fourth World Cup at this level and they also remain the only team in this tournament to have played, and won, a penalty shootout in their Round-of-16 match against Japan.
England are undefeated so far in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, winning 6 matches on the trot. Spain lost to Brazil in the group stages, finishing second in their group, but have won 5 in a row since.
It has been 8 years since a European nation became the U-17 World Champion. Switzerland was the last to win, in 2009.
Spain are the UEFA European U-17 Champions. They defeated England on penalties earlier this year in the Euro final in Croatia. If Spain win on Sunday, they will become the only nation ever to have had both their U-17 and Senior teams holding the European as well as World titles at the same time. The Spanish senior team won the Euro 2008 Championships as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2012 Championships.
Liverpool youth player Rhian Brewster became the only U-17 footballer to score two consecutive hat-tricks in a World Cup – against USA in the quarterfinals and pre-tournament favorites Brazil in the semifinal. He is in pole position for the Golden Ball award with 7 goals – with Spain’s Abel Ruiz a goal behind on 6. If he scores another hat-trick in the final, he will equal the record for the most individual goals scored in a U-17 World Cup (Victor Osimhen scored 10 goals for Champions Nigeria in the 2015 edition).
Iran, who were dumped out in the quarterfinal stage by Spain, finish fifth in this World Cup despite winning 4 out of their 5 games. France, who lost to Spain in the Round of 16 knockout match, finished their tournament with 15 goals in just four games.
England has scored 18 goals in this tournament so far. Nigeria holds a single-tournament record – 26 goals in 2015.