Colombia and the Netherlands, two big names in the world of senior football, represent the hopefuls in Nigeria 2009's Group C. With African champions Gambia and Asian toppers Iran rounding out the section, the Dutch and the Cafeteros both will be desperate to open their accounts with a full haul of points in anticipation of the tough tests to come.
Colombia arrive in Nigeria after struggling through the South American qualifying competition in Chile. After a pair of lacklustre draws, they only just snuck into the fourth and final slot from the continent. Their woes are compounded by the fact that they have lost their top player, striker Edwin Cardona, on the eve of these world finals. Although coach Ramiro Viafara is confident his physical and organised team are better than they showed in the qualifiers, their task is a heady one up against the seasoned Oranje.
The Dutch, for their part, were very nearly crowned European champions back in Germany earlier this year, losing out 2-1 in the final against the hosts. Coach Albert Stuivenberg has in his side an outstanding goalkeeper in Patrick ter Mate and a hot-hand striker in the form of Feyenoord's Luc Castaignos. The Netherlands finished third at Peru 2005 - their first U-17 finals - and they are here in west Africa with arguably an even more coherent side. A full three points in the opener will be crucial for the Lowlanders if they entertain real hopes of winning their first world crown at any age level.
0 - The number of opening games Colombia have won at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals. In 1989 they drew 1-1 with Guinea, finished tangled 0-0 with Mexico in 2003, 3-3 against Germany in 2007 and they lost 2-0 to Qatar in 1993.
"We are in a very tough group. The Dutch live up to their reputation; their players are skilful and tactically well-organised. Gambia are a typical African side, physically strong and direct in attack. We are still studying Iran but we know that they rely very much on (Kaveh) Razaei, their key man in attack," Colombia coach Ramiro Viafara.
"Colombia put in some great performances in South America, such as their 2-0 win over Brazil. It'll be a huge challenge to get started with, especially as the climate won't be a problem for them. The same goes for Iran and Gambia, even if I don't know them anywhere near as well we do Colombia," Netherlands coach Albert Stuivenberg.