The last time the FIFA U-20 World Cup went to Africa, the likes of Xavi, Ronaldinho, Diego Forlan, Roque Santa Cruz and Rafael Marquez endeared themselves to the watching world on Nigerian soil. Upon the competition's return to the Mother Continent, 504 hopefuls will have the opportunity to follow in their illustrious footsteps after being named in their respective countries' 21-player squads for Egypt 2009.
Among those being tipped to illuminate the tournament are Douglas Costa and Giuliano, who are the big names in the Brazil squad. Twins Lars and Sven Bender have also been tipped to shine for Germany. Ghana have Ransford Osei in their ranks who won the adidas Silver Shoe at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007, as well as Andre Ayew, the son of the legendary Abedi Pele.
Click on the individual team pages or player list document (to the right) to view the official squads.
Spain have also named a strong squad. Although Arsenal midfielder Fran Merida is the only survivor from the squad which finished second at Korea 2007, they are boosted by the inclusion of Atletico Madrid duo Sergio Asenjo and Alvaro Dominguez, both of who have UEFA Champions League experience. Outsiders Australia and South Africa will be looking towards AZ Alkmaar's James Holland and Kermit Erasmus respectively to help them cause a few upsets.
The spotlight for the hosts will be on Mohamed Talaat, who is considered to be the biggest star in Egypt's line-up. The Al Ahly striker is joined by promising team-mate Ahmed Shokry, a midfielder who is yet to make an appearance for the Egypt U-20 side. The ENPPI club have provided three players to watch for the Egyptians, goalkeepers Mohamed Abougabal and Aly Lotfy, as well as midfielder Mostafa Galal, a surprise inclusion given that he has only recently recovered from a long-term injury.
Something else that can be taken for granted is a crop of relative unknowns taking the tournament by storm to set of long and successful careers in the sport. It remains to be seen which of the elect 504 will emulate Canada 2007's adidas Golden Ball winner and Golden Shoe winner Sergio Aguero, but be sure to follow the quest for honours on FIFA.com.
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