From the vibrant greenery of Abu Dhabi to the desert outpost of Al Ain by way of Dubai and Sharjah, 24 of the finest competitors from every corner of Planet Football became 16 over the course of an enthralling first round at the FIFA World Youth Championship United Arab Emirates 2003. From Burkina Faso’s startling run to Group A glory, to the tightest of stalemates in an impossibly even Group F, UAE 2003’s group stage offered no mean amount of thrills, brilliant football and high drama. Join FIFA.com for a look back at the finer points of the first 36 matches in the Emirates…

UAE 2003’s first round in review
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Group A: Burkina Faso rule debutants ball
Group B: Favourites too strong
Group C: Australia rules, Brazil stumble, Canada pip
Group D: Japan’s rising sons shine highest
Group E: Irish energy and Ivorian potency
Group F: The States take wing, Germany head for home
Eight and out in the Emirates