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The past
With their qualification for Mexico 2011, Uruguay will be participating in their fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup, although this will be their first time competing at back-to-back editions of the showpiece event. Their best performances to date came at New Zealand 1999 and Nigeria 2009, where they fell at the quarter-final stage to Ghana and Spain respectively. Curiously, on the two occasions they have failed to progress beyond the first round, they had the eventual champions in their groups – Ghana at Italy 1991 and Mexico at Peru 2005.

The present
Despite having the lowest first-phase points tally of all six teams to reach the hexagonal final round at the South American U-17 Championship in Ecuador, Uruguay rallied to finish as continental runners-up for the third time in their history, and the first since 2005. Their success owed much to a solid defence, which conceded the fewest goals of the six finalists, and the goalscoring prowess of Juan Cruz Mascia, the tournament’s top scorer with six strikes.

The future
“Our qualification is testimony to the immense bravery and commitment of the group, who have some born leaders among their numbers. Regardless of what happens in Mexico, hopefully we can continue to perform at this level for a long time,” said coach Fabian Coito after the qualifiers in Ecuador as he looks ahead of the finals in Mexico.