African newcomers Malawi will make a little piece of history on Monday when they play their very first game in a FIFA competition. Their opponents at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano are Group E rivals United Arab Emirates.
Eighteen years on from their one and only FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance, UAE, who qualified for Nigeria 2009 after reaching the last four of the AFC U-16 Championship, have an excellent chance to record their first-ever win in the competition. In that previous appearance, which came at Italy 1991, the Emiratis drew with Germany and lost their other two games.
Nigeria 2009 is quite an event for the tiny central African state of Malawi. The country's football has made great strides in recent years and their surprise qualification for Nigeria 2009 was just reward for their tenacious determination in overcoming a lack of resources. After squeezing into the finals following Niger's expulsion for fielding overage players, the ambitious Young Flames are aiming to make their mark on the world stage.
3 - The number of goals scored by United Arab Emirates in their sole FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance to date. The Gulf side had an unhappy time of it at Italy 1991, conceding ten goals in their three outings against Oman, Brazil and Germany.
"Reaching the World Cup is the best thing that can happen to our players. They're going to gain the experience of playing at the highest level and against the best teams in the age group. Against Malawi we are looking for our first victory in a U-17 World Cup. I'm expecting a very tight encounter, though, because it's an important match for them too." United Arab Emirates coach Ali Ibrahim
"We've come to Nigeria to enjoy the experience of playing in a World Cup for the first time in our history. We are ready for the show and our players are going to prove that they have what it takes to compete in tournaments like this. The opening game against UAE is our big chance in this competition." Malawi coach John Kaputa