Group D: Variety is key

Disparate football and cultural backgrounds highlight an intriguing mix of teams in Group D. European representatives Turkey will likely start as favourites with coach Abdullah Ercan expressing confidence in his team's chances of success at Nigeria 2009. Burkina Faso will also undoubtedly have self-belief in the relatively familiar surroundings of a tournament played on their home continent. The Young Stallions though have a lot to live up to with the class of 2001 defeating Spain and Argentina to reach the semi-finals in a breakthrough tournament for the west African nation.

Having travelled much further are Costa Rica and New Zealand with the pair having a solid build-up for Nigeria 2009 determined not to be group makeweights. Los Ticos underwent a lengthy preparation camp with training matches, plus a tour of South America. The New Zealanders likewise spent much of the year playing together in local competition, and last week completed an undefeated three-match tour of Australia.

The teams in Group D
Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
New Zealand

The matches (all kick-offs in local time)
Turkey-Burkina Faso, Enugu, 25 October, 16:00
Costa Rica-New Zealand, Enugu, 25 October, 19:00
New Zealand-Burkina Faso, Enugu, 28 October, 16:00
Turkey-Costa Rica, Enugu, 28 October, 19:00
Burkina Faso-Costa Rica, Enugu, 31 October, 19:00
New Zealand-Turkey, Calabar, 31 October, 19:00

How they qualified
Turkey: Third in their group to claim a top-six finish in the final round of the European U-17 Championship Germany 2009.
Burkina Faso: Third in the African U-17 Championship Algeria 2009
Costa Rica: Second in their group hosted in Mexico with the competition halted after the group stages due to an outbreak of swine flu
New Zealand: Winner of the OFC U-17 Championship New Zealand 2009

The location
Enugu state in the country's south is a creative hub, being home to Nigeria's premier university and also a focal point for Nigeria's filmmaking industry. The hilly countryside of the region making for scenic and picturesque environs.

The Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium has undergone extensive renovations for the tournament allowing for a more modern appearance to go with installation of artificial turf and a new videomatrix scoreboard. Home to renowned and successful club Rangers International, the stadium has hosted numerous important matches since its inauguration in the late 1950s including key matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Nigeria 1999.

The crunch match: Turkey - Burkina Faso
The opening match is expected to go a long way to determining the direction of Group D. European qualifiers Turkey will tackle Burkina Faso with the latter expected to enjoy strong local support. Three points would mean a giant leap towards the knockout stage for the victor, while a draw would allow Costa Rica and New Zealand the opportunity to claim an early advantage.

Despite only edging through to Nigeria 2009 Turkey are in confident mood having been battle-hardened following match-ups with some of their continent's heavyweights in the qualification campaign. Burkina Faso impressed mightily scoring ten goals in their five qualification matches, with their only goal conceded coming in their semi-final defeat against hosts Algeria. The Young Burkinabè has solid pedigree at this level highlighted by a third-place finish in 2001.

The opening gambit
"To achieve something like that (win the FIFA U-17 World Cup), you need to pass through a certain process. We finally did that, and now we're one of the strongest candidates to win the tournament," Turkey coach Abdullah Ercan.