Africa at the top
Trinidad & Tobago 2001 has fallen in favor for Africa. The three CAF representatives, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria have all qualified for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The big winner of the first round of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Trinidad & Tobago 2001 is without any doubt Africa. The three CAF representatives, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria have all qualified for the quarter-finals of the tournament. The African teams have an excellent record in this competition with Nigeria and Ghana winning it twice each and reaching the final seven times (four times for Ghana, three times for Nigeria) and it is the second time in history that they all qualify for the quarter-finals. They had already achieved such a performance in 1997, in Egypt, with Mali, Ghana and Egypt.
South-America was very close to do better than Africa this time. But a goal-average in favour of Mali prevented Paraguay from going further in the competition. Argentina, who did not qualify for the last tournament in New Zealand reached the second round this time after an exceptional battle with Spain in the last group game. Brazil had even qualified before their last match versus Trinidad & Tobago but gave nevertheless no chance to the locals (6-1).
Out of the three representatives of Europe, only France finally made it for the quarter-finals, confirming that the Old Continent remains under the domination of Africa and South-America at this age. Despite a wonderful game versus Argentina, Spain has to go home early and Croatia, for their first participation in the tournament, will have certainly learnt a lot from this experience but were disappointing.
In a tournament organised by CONCACAF, one could have imagined that the local teams could have been more than outsiders. Costa Rica finished leaders of their group reaching thus for the first time the quarter-finals. The only team ever having participated to every FIFA U-17 World Championship, USA, whose preparation has been troubled by the tragic events occurred in New York City just before the start of the tournament, could not score the singlest point, as well as hosts Trinidad & Tobago who received anyway a very warmful support from the local population.
OFC's only representative, Australia, qualified as usual (they only missed it once in 1989 in Scotland) for the quarter-finals, being very close to contest the leadership of Brazil in their group.
Finally, Japan (3 points), Oman (1 point) and Iran IR (0 point) disappointed. With 9 games, 7 losses, 1 draw and 1 win, it is the worst result of Asia since the creation of this competition.