The past
Croatia have graced the FIFA U-17 World Cup twice before. Their debut came at Trinidad and Tobago 2001, where they went home early after losing to tournament heavyweights Australia and Brazil, this despite beating the hosts in their other pool match. It was a similar story for the Croatians at the last world finals in the age category, with defeats to Morocco and Uzbekistan and a solitary win over Panama condemning them to another first-round departure.

The present
The Croatians were solid in qualifying for the UEFA European U-17 Championship Bulgaria 2015, going unbeaten in both the qualifying and elite rounds. They kept that run going in the finals, defeating the hosts 2-0 and Austria 1-0 before drawing 0-0 with Spain to top their group. The eastern Europeans conceded their only goal of the tournament in the quarter-finals against Belgium, a game they eventually lost on penalties, though they bounced back to seal their place at Chile 2015 with a 1-0 win over Italy in the World Cup play-offs.

The future
Dario Basic’s side can take a lot of satisfaction from their impressive showing at the continental finals, and with a high-quality squad at his disposal, he will be looking to build on their recent progress in Chile.

Facts and Figures

Former stars
Niko Kranjcar, Dario Kresic, Alen Halilovic.

Key players 
Nikola Moro (midfielder), Karlo Majic (forward), Adrian Semper (goalkeeper), Vinko Soldo (defender).

The stat
11 - the number of games Croatia have gone unbeaten in the age group, a confidence-boosting run made up of eight wins and three draws.