The build-up to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 quickened on Wednesday evening as the Official Draw took place. Held at the Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention Centre in the northern coastal city of Cartagena, the draw ended a nervous wait for the 24 finalists as they discovered the identity of their rivals in the group phase, which begins when Brazil take on Egypt in Barranquilla on 29 July.
Attended by 600 guests in all and some 200 journalists, the ceremony was full of colour and excitement. The popular Colombian singer Jorge Celedon, accompanied by acclaimed accordionist Jimmy Zambrano and an eye-catching dance troupe, got everyone in the Colombia 2011 spirit with the official tournament song Nuestra Fiesta (Our Party).
“Colombia has the strength and the desire to stage the best youth World Cup in FIFA’s history,” said the President of the Colombian Football Association and the Colombia 2011 Local Organising Committee, Luis H. Bedoya Giraldo. Also speaking at the event were FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is also the President of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos Calderon.
“This tournament means a lot for the country," said Calderon. "In terms of structure, in terms of tourism, and it means a lot to the kids and the young people. We’ll show the world what a fantastic country we have.”
By this time the Official Draw was almost upon us. Following a video showing highlights from recent FIFA U-20 World Cups, compère Gordon Savic took to the stage. Joining him were the Mayor of Cartagena Judith Pinedo, former Cafetero internationals Oscar Cordoba and Carlos Valderrama, and the gifted Yoreli Rincon, who will be running out for Colombia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.
And when the draw got under way, it threw up more than its fair share of intriguing match-ups. With former champions Ghana failing to qualify for the tournament, 2009 second-place finishers Brazil will kick-off their campaign to again reach the final against Egypt on the first matchday of the tournament. In an Americas battle, Argentina will take on Mexico in Group F's headlining match.
On 30 July, the tournaments' hosts take on a France team who beat England in February, in Group A. While Nigeria, who are hoping to add to their one U-20 title in the last ten tournaments, will follow-up the first two days of action with a match against Guatemala.
The groups for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 are as follows:
Group A (Bogota/Cali)
Group B (Cali/Bogota)
Group C (Manizales/Pereira)
Group D (Armenia/Pereira)
Group E (Barranquilla/Cartagena)
Group F (Medellin/Cartagena)