Argentina
© AFP

The past
Of all FIFA’s global men’s competitions, the FIFA U-17 World Cup is arguably Argentina’s most pressing piece of unfinished business. Though only two nations have competed at more editions of the showpiece event than La Albiceleste, the two-time FIFA World Cup™ winners and six-time world U-20 champions have never done better than the third-placed finishes secured in 1991, 1995 and 2003. Can they finally break their duck at Mexico 2011?

The present
Coached by Oscar Garre, the left-back from Argentina’s triumphant Mexico 1986-winning squad, La Albiceleste earned their place at this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup despite losing their last two games of the six-team final round at March/April’s South American U-17 Championship in Ecuador. Despite winning Group A, Argentina could only manage third spot in the final ‘hexagonal’ round, though they did boast the tournament’s second-most prolific attack with 17 goals to champion Brazil’s 19.

The future
“Historically, Argentina have always qualified for World Cups. Getting there has sometimes been a struggle, but there have been teams that found an extra gear (at the finals, after qualifying travails). You have to try and win every competition you take part in. When you’re carrying that historical burden, you know about it,” said coach Garre, on La Albiceleste’s approach to Mexico 2011.