Mexico
© AFP

The past
The Mexicans have a long history at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, lining up in the final of the inaugural event back in Tunisia in 1977, where they lost out in a dramatic penalty shootout to the Soviet Union. Now they are hoping to align their proud history of 12 CONCACAF U-20 titles with their dominance at U-17 level, where they are defending world champions. A host of the U-17 world beaters from 2011 are now playing in Mexico's U-20 side and talk of them being favourites to take the crown in Turkey doesn’t seem far-fetched

The present
Led by coach and former national team striker Sergio Almaguer, Mexico strolled through the CONCACAF qualifying event earlier this year, conceding just one goal in their five games and scoring virtually at will. Playing on home soil, in Puebla, certainly helped matters for El Tri, but the quality in the team was the major factor.  Jesus Corona and Marco Bueno are towering figures in attack and their link-up play is enough to trouble any defence in the world at this age category. Julio Gomez and Jorge Espericuerta also offer the young Mexicans a cutting edge, while captain Antonio Briseno provides steel to the defence.

The future
Mexico head to Turkey with a side fancied to go far. Anything short of a place in the semi-finals would be considered a disappointment for the country that has made youth development a priority over the past decade, winning two U-17 world titles and an historic Olympic Gold medal in London last summer. “We have a strong defence and we move well in attack,” said coach Almaguer about his fast-moving and incisive squad. “We are a well-rounded group and we will be prepared when the time comes.”