All shapes and sizes

There are no special criteria for playing football. Pretty much anyone can do it, and the list of players for Canada 2007 is an excellent example of this diversity peculiar to the planet's number one sport. Tall or short, heavy or light, home bird or continent-hopper: everyone has their place. Read on as places the players taking part in the U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 under the microscope.

Zambia arrive with a team with an average height of less than 1.57 metres. Standing just 1.50m in his socks, midfielder Sebastian Mwansa is the most extreme example of the side's vertically challenged composition. Nigerian defender Robert Egbeta, in contrast, is the tournament giant at exactly 2.00 metres, but it is the Czechs who are the tallest overall, with an average height of 1.83m.

Logically enough, the Zambians also take the record for the lowest overall weight. The young Chipolopolos weigh in at an average of 60 kilos, the most lightweight being defender Richard Chibwe at 53kg. Let us hope he manages to steer clear of the New Zealand keeper Rhyss Keane who, at 95kg, is almost twice his weight...On average though, the Poles are the heaviest at 76 kilos.

Even teenagers can sometimes lay claim to veteran status. The American captain Freddy Adu knows the FIFA U-20 World Cup like the back of his hand, having taken part twice before, as has Canadian skipper David Edgar. Still only 17, Adu, the US prodigy of Ghanaian extraction could yet set an historic record by appearing in a fourth tournament in two years time. But in terms of matches played, Adu is still far behind the Uruguayan Cesar Pellegrin (14 appearances in two tournaments - 1997 and 1999), with "only" eight games under his belt thus far.

Wise old Freddy
Despite having been just 13 in 2003, Adu could perhaps offer a few tips to the "tournament baby", Gambia's Abdourahman Dampha, born on 27 December 1991 and therefore not yet 16 years of age, or to the equally youthful Panamanian Luis Mejia (16/03/91), North Korean Ri Yong Chol (24/02/91) and Gambian Paul Jatta (21/02/91).

Where clubs are concerned, the variety is equally striking. The 502 players involved ply their trade in 36 different leagues, while two are currently clubless. ACNF of Congo top the list of contributors, with 14 players (all Congolese) taking part in the tournament. Next come the great Real Madrid with eight representatives, breaking down as six Spaniards, one Brazilian (Marcelo) and a Pole (Krzysztof Krol). Some of the players will already be "old foes" from the national leagues, as 31 are based in Spain, 25 in the United States and 23 in Japan.

The Jordanians, Panamanians, Japanese, North Koreans and Zambians are clearly yet to be bitten by the travel bug, as all their squad members are based at home. The Canadians, in contrast, display much greater wanderlust, with only five of their squad of 21 earning their crust in their domestic leagues. Next come the Poles, who have just 13 home-based players, followed by New Zealand with 15.

Finally, even some countries that failed to qualify will benefit from representation of sorts, courtesy of the fifteen players from the English league, seven from Germany, six from France and five from Italy. For these four football forces absent from the big occasion, this will serve as scant consolation. But one thing is for sure: from whichever angle you scrutinise the squad lists , discerning a favourite for the trophy is a real tall order.