Joining the world's leading U-17 sides this month in Peru will be the FIFA Technical Support Group (TSG). Although a little more advanced in years than the stars on the pitch, the group of experts are set to play a vital role as the tournament unfolds.
Just who are the future stars of world football? Which teams are using the most innovative strategies? What are the major tactical developments taking place in the youth game? All the answers thrown up by the extravaganza in Peru will find their way into the technical report to be drafted by the six members of the TSG, coordinated once again by Holger Osieck, Head of Technical Development at FIFA. The report, featuring all the statistics from the tournament, will be sent to all the national associations and made available to football experts around the globe.
Starting at the 1966 FIFA World Cup England™, FIFA has put together countless statistical reports on its official competitions ever since. Nearly forty years on, the exhaustive work conducted by the TSG now involves providing in-depth analysis of the latest trends in the game, and keeping FIFA's national member associations abreast of tactical innovations. It is also, of course, a vital source of information for coaches at all levels looking to keep up with developments in what has become a fast-changing game.
The members of the TSG at the FIFA U-17 World Championship are as follows:
Rodrigo Kenton (Costa Rica): After a playing career that spanned a decade and a half, Kenton turned his attention to full-time coaching. Having played for Deportivo Saprissa and a number of other clubs, Kenton was Bora Milutinovic's assistant coach with Costa Rica and Nigeria at the Italy 1990 and France 1998 FIFA World Cup™ finals respectively before returning to the same post with "Los Ticos" at Korea/Japan 2002. He was then appointed head coach of the Costa Rican side that reached the Olympic Football Tournament at Athens 2004, and that same year was named the country's sports personality of the year. In June this year he formed part of the Technical Study Group at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005.
Teófilo Cubillas (Peru): The greatest Peruvian footballer of all time is still a national hero to young and old alike. Having burst through the youth team ranks at Alianza Lima, "El Nene" as he is known in Peru, led the national side to no fewer than three FIFA World Cup finals: Mexico 1970, Argentina 1978 and Spain 1982, when "Los Incas" made their last appearance at the world's premier football tournament. Cubillas scored 10 goals in those three appearances, earning him a deserved place on FIFA's exclusive list of the 100 greatest living footballers. This is the second time that the legendary striker has been appointed to a FIFA Technical Study Group, having being a member of the TSG at the FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003.
Jean Michel Benezet (France): Born in France, Jean Michel Benezet is married with two children and has always maintained close links with the world of football. He played for his country back in 1967, although his first French League appearance did not come until a year later when he joined Toulouse. Benezet retired from the game in 1978 and was a member of the French Football Federation's National Technical Committee between 1981 and 1992. During this time, he was also a technical observer and a member of the coaching and training staff. Between 1992 and 1995 he coached Mauritania, although his work with FIFA dates back to 1989 when he started out as an instructor. Now a technical consultant, he has played an active role in FIFA's Goal project, given numerous courses for managers, and been involved in the development of football in several African countries and Peru.
Kwok Ka-Ming (Hong Kong): Kwok Ka-Ming is a well-known figure both in local footballing circles and in Asia as a whole. He played 96 times for Hong Kong between 1968 and 1979, captaining the side in 40 of those games. Unsurprisingly, given his credentials, he became Hong Kong coach and held the post in two separate stints: 1982-1990 and 1996-1997. It was under Kwok Ka-Ming that Hong Kong enjoyed their finest hour, a 2-1 home defeat of mighty neighbours China 2-1 in a qualifying game for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™. Since becoming an AFC coaching instructor in 1990 and a FIFA coaching instructor in 1996, Kwok has devoted his time to promoting football all over Asia and passing his not inconsiderable experience onto the continent's youngsters. He has been a member of AFC and FIFA Technical Study Groups at a number of tournaments.
Jean Manga (Cameroon): In the early 1980s, Jean Manga Onguene was a member of the first great Cameroon side to take the world by storm. Along with fellow Canon Yaounde team-mates Theophile Abega and Gregorie Mbida, Manga formed a formidable three-pronged forward line. It was a side that made history by winning virtually every trophy available, including the Cameroonian league title in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1982, the African Cup Winners Cup in 1979, and the African Champions Cup in 1978 and 1980, the season in which Manga was also voted African Player of the Year. In 1982, the Indomitable Lions qualified for their first ever FIFA World Cup finals, although Manga was no longer part of the team by that time. After hanging up his boots, he spent the next 13 years as an assistant coach with the national team, working with both the senior and youth squads. Manga took over as Cameroon coach in 1997 and led them to the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™, only to resign before the tournament got under way. He was then appointed head of the FIFA Goal Bureau in western Africa.
Jim Selby (Australia): Jim Selby has been involved in coaching for a long time. Aged 53, he has worked in development and coaching in Australia for no less than 25 years . His job consists of educating the coaches from grass-roots to professional level and he is about to become Technical Director for the OFC. Selby was also coach of the Australian women national team for 10 years. He is a FIFA instructor, working for Futuro II and III projects all over Oceania.