As is so often the case with FIFA competitions, Brazil are a force to be reckoned with at finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Having taken part in 11 editions of the elite event, the Auriverde's three trophy wins - at Egypt 1997, New Zealand 1999 and Finland 2003 - make them the tournament's most successful nation, alongside 2009 hosts Nigeria. Meanwhile, at regional level they are indisputably the team to beat, with nine wins from 13 South American championships in the category. After their premature exit at Korea 2007 at the hands of Round of 16 opponents Ghana, this year's showpiece is their chance to set the record straight.
After winning yet another Sudamericano U-17 crown, Brazil travel to Nigeria 2009 as regional champions. Under coach Luis Nizzo, the Canarinha dominated Group A of this year's qualifying event in Chile, following up wins over Paraguay and Peru with a surprise reverse against Colombia before a 3-0 victory over Bolivia sealed their place in Nigeria. In the final, Nizzo's young charges held their nerve to win on penalties after Argentina had fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2. They therefore finished with a record of three wins, one draw and one defeat, while their goal average of 2.4 per game was the tournament's best.
With the tournament taking place at the home of Nigeria, Brazil's main rivals at this level, Nizzo's Seleção would dearly love to move ahead of their African hosts as the most successful side in FIFA U-17 World Cup history. And they have the personnel to do just that, boasting the Sudamericano 2009's joint-best defence (along with Argentina), the time-honoured Brazilian staple of marauding full-backs, goalscoring creative midfielders and unpredictable and clinical strikers. Of the players who triumphed on Chilean soil in April and May, Wellington and Coutinho were the talents which shone brightest. "It's a great squad, which behaves very professionally when we get down to work. And though they're still boys, they've got a huge amount of quality. Let's hope they go on to become big stars," said coach Nizzo.
Facts and figures
Julio Cesar (1995), Ronaldinho (1997), Diego (1999), Adriano (1999), Marcelo (2005), Anderson (2005), Lulinha (2007)
Luis Guilherme (goalkeeper), Gerson (defender), Coutinho (midfielder), Zezinho (midfielder), Wellington (forward)
Brazil won four of their five games, scoring 12 goals and conceding four.
The numbers game
5 - The number of times Brazil have reached the final of a FIFA U-17 World Cup. They won in 1997, 1999 and 2003 and were beaten in 1995 and 2005.