Eleven editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup have thrown up some intriguing statistics, and three weeks of action in the Far East promise to enrich this collection. On the eve of Korea 2007, FIFA.com takes a look at some of these facts and figures.
Goals, goals, goals...
If recent history is anything to go by, then a goal-fest can be expected in Korea. Finland 2003 produced a joint-record total of 117 (3.66 per match), which tied Egypt 1997's haul, while Peru 2005 yielded a next-best of 111.
The most goal-laden contest in FIFA U-17 World Cup history took place ten years ago in North Africa, though the scoring was exclusive to Spain, who put 13 past New Zealand without reply. David's quartet of strikes in that game helped him finish on seven overall to become the first European to claim the adidas Golden Ball since Germany FR's eight-goal striker Marcel Witeczek in the inaugural finals in 1985.
It was in 2001 that the individual scoring record was
set, though, Florent Sinama-Pongolle rippling opponents' nets
nine times to help France stand tallest on the podium. He remains
one of only three players to have finished as the competition's
leading marksman and claimed a winners' medal, the others being
Mexico's Carlos Vela two years ago and Wilson Oruma of Nigeria
in 1993. Moreover, Sinama Pongolle became the first player to
pocket both the adidas Golden Shoe and the adidas Golden Ball
awards, a feat Spaniard Cesc Fabregas repeated two years later.
In keeping with the post-millennium scoring milestones, the event's fatest ever goal was posted by Celsinho, who took a mere 14 seconds to set Brazil en route to a 4-3 win over Turkey in their Peru 2005 semi-final.
Unsurprisingly, the Seleção lead the way on the teams' chart with 110 goals in ten participations, although their overall goals-per-game ratio of 2.16 is dwarfed by 1987 champions USSR, who were on the mark 21 times in six outings (3.50) during their solitary appearance on the world U-17 stage. With 22 goals in six matches in 1997, Spain edge the Soviets for the best goals-per-game ratio (3.67) in a single tournament.
Increasing their advantage on the goal count over nearest challengers Ghana (73), Nigeria (67) and Spain (66) is not the only cushion Brazil will have the opportunity to extend in Korea. The unequalled three-time kings will also go in search of a fourth title in the category, and should they realise this dream by winning a maximum of seven games, which would tie their own record of successive wins set between 1997 and 1999, they will return home having won 40 FIFA U-17 World Cup matches.
Due to Australia's failure to qualify for the finals for only the second time, the Seleção will also move into second postion outright as the team with the most participations. However, USA kept up their proud status as tournament ever-presents by cruising through the CONCACAF qualifying section.
This year's field includes seven FIFA U-17 newcomers: Belgium, England, Haiti, Honduras, Syria, Tajikistan and Togo, while Trinidad and Tobago and Peru, whose lone participations came courtesy of their hosts' statuses in 2001 and 2005 respectively, will also be looking to achieve their first win in the competition.
Short and tall, young and old
The 504 teenagers eager to make an impression on Asian soil, none of whom have previously participated in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, are on the books at clubs from 28 countries across the globe. England and the USA home 25 apiece, with 24 based in France and one less tied to teams within the host nation.
At 1.95m, Germany goalkeeper Fabian Giefer will stand taller than his 503 counterparts, while New Zealand's Adam Cowen will be the competition's loftiest outfield player. Team-mates Abdul Naza Alhassan and Richard Mpong will be the most diminutive players on show, and their 1.61m frames contribute to making Ghana's squad the shortest on average (170.8m).
Tajikistan defender Furug Qodirov is the youngest competitor to have made the squad lists for Korea 2007. However, at 14 years and ten months he is a full two years older than Nigerian Peter Ogaba was when he appeared in the 1987 finals. At the opposite end of the scale, the 70-year-old Juan Santisteban will operate the Spanish controls at the FIFA U-17 World Cup for an incredible seventh time. When his side meet Syria on 22 August in Ulsan, two players will be desperate to taste victory on their 17th birthday: the Iberians' defender Sergio and Hussam Al Hamawi of the Asian underdogs.
The last quarter-final, in Goyang City on 2 September, will be the 400 th game in FIFA U-17 World Cups. When all is said and done, though, it is match 52 - the final - which will be command a more significant place in history. Then the world can reflect on a fresh crop of statistics.