Tough tests for Brazil
© AFP

A place among the pre-tournament favourites is almost a birthright for Brazilian footballers. This esteemed position has been well earned, too. And though the FIFA U-20 World Cup is one tournament in which they have been traditionally out-performed by old rivals Argentina, La Albiceleste's absence ensures that the Brazilians - with four titles - are the most successful of Egypt 2009's competing nations.

Yet while all eyes in Group E will be on the South American champions, they face a strong and varied challenge from three corners of the globe. Czech Republic, finalists two years ago in Canada, are confident of providing another strong showing, while the athleticism and never-say-die spirit of Jan Versleijen's Australia are sure to make them formidable foes. A Seleção are not the only continental champions in this section either, with CONCACAF kings Costa Rica out to prove that their sensational qualifying campaign was anything but a fluke.

The teams in Group E
Australia
Brazil
Costa Rica
Czech Republic

The matches (all kick-offs in local time)
Brazil - Costa Rica, Port Said, 27 September; 16:00
Czech Republic - Australia, Port Said, 27 September; 18:45
Australia - Costa Rica, Port Said, 30 September; 16:00
Brazil - Czech Republic, Port Said, 30 September, 18:45
Costa Rica - Czech Republic, Alexandria, 3 October; 21:30
Australia - Brazil, Port Said, 3 October, 21:30

How they qualified
Australia: Semi-finalists at the AFC U-19 Championship in Saudi Arabia.
Brazil: Winners of the CONMEBOL U-20 Championship in Venezuela.
Costa Rica: Winners of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad and Tobago.
Czech Republic: Semi-finalists at the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2008 on home soil.

The location
With five of the section's six fixtures taking place in Port Said, it is this legendary city on the banks of the Suez Canal that will be the focus for fans of the Group E hopefuls. This north-eastern outpost, 200km from Cairo, is home to over 500,000 inhabitants and was long renowned as Egypt's principal commercial port. The city's fixtures will be staged in the 22,000-capacity Port Said Stadium, which normally plays host to the passionately-supported Egyptian Premier League side Al-Masry.

The crunch match: Brazil-Costa Rica
This opening encounter between the champions of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF could go a long way towards determining the sides' respective fates. Brazil are still smarting from their ignominious exit from the group stage at Canada 2007 and, with promising talents such as Alan Kardec, Giuliano and Walter tipped to follow in the illustrious footsteps of Dunga, Kaka and Ronaldinho - all of whom illuminated previous editions - hopes are high of a fifth title at this age level.

Yet in Costa Rica, Rogerio Lourenco's side face arguably one of the tournament's most dangerous dark horses. Los Ticos certainly provided an awesome display of their potential at their continental finals, sweeping aside pre-tournament favourites Mexico before defeating USA 3-0 in the final to cap a campaign in which they conceded just one goal. Facing Brazil in their opening match undoubtedly represents a huge test of their credentials, but if Ronald Gonzalez's talented side can pick up a point or three, they will rightly feel that the sky is the limit at Egypt 2009.

The opening gambit
"It's great to be in a competition like this. Our target is to win the title. We have a very talented squad and we're capable of playing a great tournament. There's always pressure when you're playing for the Seleção, regardless of the age group, but the players are ready for this." Alan Kardec, Brazil forward.