On Monday 25 March, the focus of attention for the global footballing family turned to Istanbul, as the Turkish metropolis hosted the eagerly-awaited group stage draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013.
Exactly 88 days before the tournament kicked off, the competing teams learned who they must overcome in their quest to claim the most prestigious prize in youth football.
Eager anticipation, mounting tension
The 19th edition of the highly anticipated FIFA tournament takes place between 21 June and 13 July this summer. A starting field of 24 teams will contest a total of 52 matches in the seven host cities of Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon. The eventual winners will succeed Brazil as world champions, as the winners of the last FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia two years ago surprisingly failed to qualify for this summer's showdown in Turkey.
"On Monday, we will experience one of the most important nights in Turkish football history,” LOC chairman Servet Yardimci said before the event. “The official draw of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be the biggest ever event organised in Turkey, will be held in the Grand Tarabya Hotel, İstanbul. The event will be a wonderful opportunity to host our guests who are coming from every corner of the world to the draw, which is something we are very happy and proud about. Turkish football is experiencing a golden moment with the organisation of the tournament, because we have never before hosted an international football tournament held in more than one city. Therefore - the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 which will be held in seven different cities this summer - is a milestone for us."
Big-name stars take the stage
A large proportion of the audience were with nervous anticipation. That was complemented by a glamorous parade of stars in a rich and diverse programme making up the 60-minute ceremony. The event attracted an audience of 350 plus around 100 media representatives, and was also shown live by Turkish TV station TRT Sport.
The attractive programme ispresented by famous Turkish TV star and newspaper columnist Defne Samyeli. High-profile Turkish band Gece also supply a musical highlight when they perform Yildizlar Buradan Yukseliyor (The Stars Rise From Here), the official song of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013.
Another major event to look out for is presentation of the brand new FIFA U-20 World Cup trophy which is on display for the first time.
The draw itself comes with a special surprise, as FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke is joined by no fewer than four of the biggest names in Turkish football for the draw Renowned coaches and former Turkey bosses Fatih Terim and Mustafa Denizli join forces with former world-class striker and Turkey’s all-time top scorer Hakan Sukur, as well as ex goalkeeper Rustu Recber, the nation's most-capped international.
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