South American qualifiers for the FIFA U-17 World Cup kick off
Continental tournament take places in Peru between 21 March and 14 April
Sole venue to be Lima’s Estadio San Marcos
After the nations to represent Asia (AFC) and Oceania (OFC) were decided at their respective qualifying events in 2018, the focus now turns to South America (CONMEBOL), where the South American U-17 championship gets underway tomorrow to decide which of the region’s four sides will join hosts Brazil at the FIFA U-17 World Cup later this year.
The South American championship, which takes place in Peru, will run from 21 March until 14 April. All 35 fixtures will be staged at the Estadio Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in the capital of Lima.
The ten competing nations will be split into two groups of five, with the top three from each section advancing to a six-team final round, which starts on 2 April.
The hexagonal stage will use a mini-league format to assign the four World Cup berths.
In the event of Brazil finishing in the top four, the last qualifying berth will go to the fifth-place side.
The U-17 Sudamericano will be the first chance to see the refurbishment works carried out at the Estadio San Marcos for the Pan-American Games Lima 2019, which will be celebrated there in July and August.
The venue boasts a capacity of 22,500 and an artificial pitch. That type of surface is nothing new in Peru, with all five venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005 having used one.
The foreign legion
Of the 230 players that will take part in the qualifying event, the vast majority play their club football in their home country. Just seven ply their trade overseas, with Europe and the USA their destination of choice.
Santiago Ocampos (Paraguay), right-back, Juventus
Juan David Fuentes (Colombia), striker, Barcelona
Juan David Perea (Colombia), midfielder, Atletico Madrid (Editor's note: Son of Luis A. Perea, former Atletico and Colombia defender)
Matias Lacava (Venezuela), midfielder, Benfica
Luis Balbo (Venezuela), goalkeeper, Porto
Alessandro Burlamaqui (Peru), midfielder, Espanyol
Vicente Reyes (Chile), goalkeeper, Atlanta United