While Turkey and Ukraine were the fancied teams going into the tournament, China were the surprise packages of Group B, sweeping through the first stage with three straight victories. Ukraine, too, impressed with their teamwork and organisation, with Oleksandr Aliiev and Artem Milevskyi the standout stars in the team. Turkey, despite less convincing performances, displayed individual skill and could improve as the tournament progresses. Coach Victor Mendieta's young Panama charges got better over the three matches, but they were punished for their lack of international experience.
1- China, 9 pts
China pulled off three hard-won victories to top Group B which was something of a surprise to many. The runners-up in the 2004 AFC Youth Championship showcased the improvements made during their 50-day pre-tournament training camp under their German coach Eckhard Krautzun. In this well-organised team, captain Feng Xiaoting played a key role in a defence which proved solid throughout the group stage. Diminutive midfielder Lu Lin was a revelation while both Chen Tao and Hao Junmin proved dynamos in midfield. Up front, Zhu Ting and Gao Lin spearheaded an attack which proved a real handful, with Man United striker Dong Fangzhuo and Chinese national striker Zhou Haibin filling the roles of super-subs.
But the team's true strength lay in their teamwork which proved solid even when they went a goal down against Ukraine in their second match. They kept their cool and it only took them four minutes to level the score. With the two sides subsequently locked at 2-2 and Zhu Ting sent off in the second half, the 10-man team scored the winner and held out for a victory.
2- Ukraine, 4pts
Coach Alexei Mikhailichenko usually fielded a team with eight or nine players from Dynamo Kyiv which ensured a well-drilled group. With that level of understanding, Dynamo Kyiv team mates Oleksandr Aliiev and Artem Milevskyi formed a impressive partnership up front, with the former scoring five of the team's seven goals. Both physically and technically strong, the East Europeans main problem seemed to be missing chances.
3- Turkey, 4pts
The 2004 UEFA Youth Championship runners-up eventually qualified for the last sixteen in third place in Group B. They were stunned by China's late winner in their opener before they started to find their normal selves in the second match against Panama. However, although dominant throughout the 90 minutes, they only won by a Gokhan Gulec goal in the first half. In the showdown with Ukraine, Sezer Ozturk displayed his set-piece ability - helping the team to come back twice to draw 2-2.
With deft skills, agility and pace, coach Senol Ustaomer's men, who are making a name for themselves in domestic or foreign leagues, are unquestionably talented players.
4- Panama 0 pts
Panama paid for their lack of international experience as they repeated the story of 2003 UAE - packing for home after three straight defeats. The nervous Central Americans never found their rhythm in their opener against Ukraine which saw the Europeans win 3-1 comfortably. They improved in their second match with Turkey but were still largely outplayed. Coach Victor Mendieta's brave charges kept working hard in the final match but China proved too strong as the Asians rounded off their group stage with a deserved 4-1 win.
Despite the disappointing results, Panama were not short of talent. Both Hanamell Hill and Luis Gallardo showed silky skills in the midfield with captain Armando Gun and Jose Venegas the mainstays in defence.