Argentina are one of the globe's leading lights at youth international level, though the FIFA U-17 World Cup is still missing from their collection. La Albiceleste have qualified for 12 of the 15 global showpiece tournaments to date, only failing to reach Canada 1987, New Zealand 1999 and Peru 2005. They have reached the semi-finals on four occasions but have never finished better than third, as they did at Italy 1991, Ecuador 1995 and Finland 2003. At the last world finals, in Mexico in 2011, they reached the Round of 16.
Under coach Humberto Grondona, Argentina hosted and won the 2013 South American U-17 Championship, lifting the trophy for the third time and ending a run of four straight titles for their arch-rivals, Brazil. They made the worst possible start by losing their two opening games, but responded with two straight wins to reach the final group stage. There they beat Peru and Paraguay, before drawing with fellow UAE 2013 finalists Uruguay, Brazil and Venezuela and winning the title on goal difference. Argentina also had the second-most prolific attack at the tournament, finishing with 17 goals to Uruguay's 20.
After Argentina's success in the regional qualifying tournament, coach Grondona praised his side's positive approach and said he hoped for more of the same at UAE 2013. "We scored a lot of goals, we never lost our focus and we always tried to play our game, whether we won or lost,” said the 56-year-old. "We can go a long way at this World Cup, and I want to go there to win the title."
|9||Lucas VERA PIRIS|