Although France had only appeared once before at the FIFA U-17 World Championship, in Canada back in 1987 when they finished sixth, the current crop of French youngsters arrived in the Caribbean determined to emulate their illustrious elders' winning ways at France '98 and Euro 2000. And so it was, Jean-François Jodar's side showing maturity beyond their years. Aggressive in the tackle and tactically very organised, they oscillated between a 3-5-2 and 3-6-1 and were able to rely on two extremely gifted individuals from Le Havre: Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama Pongolle. The young "Blues" won five of their six games, losing to Nigeria in the first round but getting their revenge in the Final. They hit five in a game on two occasions, against the USA (5-3) and Japan (5-1), before brushing past two footballing giants, Argentina and Brazil (2-1 in both games) and overcoming Nigeria 3-0 in the final.
Africa more than held its own in Trinidad and Tobago. Nigeria beat Burkina Faso in one semi-final, only to lose out to France in the Final. Burkina Faso went on to dispose of Argentina (2-0) in the third place play-off thanks to outstanding performances from Madi Panandetiguiri and Wilfried Sanou.
Few punters had their money on the Burkinabe before the tournament kicked off. A nation hardly pre-eminent in African football, let alone on the world stage, Jacques Yameogo's side came of age in Trinidad and Tobago, their canny 3-5-2 formation earning them third place, with historic wins against Spain (1-0) and Argentina (2-0) along the way.
Player of the Tournament:
Skill, speed and opportunism in front of goal won France's Florent Sinama Pongolle both the top scorer and Player of the Tournament awards in Trinidad and Tobago. Born on 20 October 1984, this highly exciting prospect netted twice against Nigeria, three times against both the USA and Japan and once against Brazil.
Carlos Tevez (ARG), Caetano (BRA), Diego (BRA), Fernando Torres (ESP), Florent Sinama Pongolle (FRA), Anthony Le Tallec (FRA), Femi Opabunmi (NGA).
Trinidad and Tobago 2001 stats:
- Burkina Faso
102 (3.19 per match)
France, 18 goals
- Florent Sinama Pongolle (FRA), 9 goals
- Femi Opabunmi (NGA), 5 goals
- Caetano (BRA), 4 goals
Port of Spain, Malabar, Couva, Marabella and Bacolet.