Germany have hardly been a regular fixture at recent FIFA U-17 World Cups, but even so, the side currently coached by Marco Pezzaiuoli have achieved a significant amount of success over the years. At the last tournament in Korea in 2007, they managed a respectable third-place finish after bowing out to eventual winners Nigeria in the semi-finals. It was west Africans once again who put paid to the Germans' championship dreams in China back in 1985, when they were beaten 2-0 by the Golden Eaglets in their only final appearance to date. They have taken part in four further FIFA U-17 World Cups, notably impressing at Egypt 1997 to finish fourth, while the German Democratic Republic (DDR) also made the last eight at Scotland 1989.
The current German U-17 squad are clearly on the right path to great things. Coach Pezzaiuoli and his charges are heading to Nigeria as reigning European champions and so naturally they are among the favourites. At the recent UEFA Under-17 European Championship, the Germans remained unbeaten as they marched to the coveted title on home soil, overcoming The Netherlands 2-1 after extra time in the final. The side captained by Reinhold Yabo managed to notch an impressive 13 goals en route and also proved their defensive capabilities by conceding just twice. Victories over Italy (2-0), England (4-0), Turkey (3-1) and a preliminary round success against the Netherlands (2-0) were all evidence of a promising young side brimming with attacking creativity.
The Germans' approach to Nigeria 2009 is clear: they want to follow up their European Championship win by adding the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy to their list of honours. There is no doubt that the squad boasts talent in abundance, while Pezzaiuoli has managed to blend maturity, physical strength, attacking flair and the winning mentality instilled across the German national youth set-up by DFB Director of Sport Matthias Sammer. Indeed, four of the players from the recent European Championship squad have already caught the eye of senior team coach Joachim Low. "Mario Gotze was very impressive throughout the tournament and numbers 2, 7 and 9 all played really well, too," said the former Freiburg striker, referring of course to Cologne defender Bienvenue Basala-Mazana, Liverpool midfielder Christopher Buchtmann and Werder Bremen forward Lennart Thy respectively.
Facts and figures
Marcel Witeczek (1985), Fabian Ernst (1995), Sebastian Kehl (1997), Sebastian Deisler (1997), Thomas Hitzlsperger (1999), Toni Kroos (2007)
Bienvenue Basala-Mazana (Defener), Shkodran Mustafi (Defender), Mario Gotze (Midfielder), Christopher Buchtmann (Midfielder), Lennart Thy (Forward)
The numbers game
20 - The number of goals that Germany scored at Korea 2007, more than any other team at the tournament.
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