Brazil arrived in Egypt intent on winning the one FIFA trophy that had always eluded them in the past. Carlos César was appointed coach to that aim, and he set about building a team around a mouth-watering midfield quartet of Abel, Matuzalem, Fabio Pinto and Ronaldinho Gaúcho. Playing 4-4-2, the young Seleçao set about their task with great enthusiasm, and the result was a six-game winning streak, 21 goals scored, 2 conceded, and mission accomplished. Brazil crushed all-comers, never looking in any trouble except during a tricky first half against Ghana in the Final. Even then, the Green and Golds took complete control in the second half and ran out comfortable 2-1 winners.
This was a relatively surprise-free event, with virtually all the favourites living up to pre-tournament expectations. The presence of two European sides in the semis, given the historical context of the FIFA U-17 World Championship, was notable in itself. Germany and Spain at last gave Europe something to shout about, even if they did lose to Brazil (0-4) and Ghana (1-2) respectively in the semis.
The Spanish side could count Iker Casillas, David and adidas Golden Ball winner Sergio in their ranks. Germany, meanwhile, had Sebastian Deisler in sparkling form and a very mature keeper in Roman Weidenfeller. Ghanaian strikers Owusu Afriyie and Michael Coffie were impressive too, both scoring three goals.
Player of the Tournament:
Spanish attacking duo Sergio and David were constant thorns in the side of opposition defences, but it was Sergio's more mature overall game that no doubt persuaded the Technical Study Group to name him player of the tournament. Fast, tricky and blessed with great vision, the adidas Golden Ball winner only hit two goals (against New Zealand and Egypt) compared to David's seven, so his nomination is proof that there is more to the art of attack than scoring goals. Catalan giants Barcelona certainly agreed; they snapped up young Sergio as soon as the tournament was over.
Gabriel Milito (ARG), Ferrugem (BRA), Matuzalem (BRA), Ronaldinho Gaúcho (BRA), David (ESP), Iker Casillas (ESP), Sergio (ESP), Xavi (ESP), Sebastian Deisler (GER), Owusu Afriyie (GHA)
Egypt 1997 stats:
117 (3.66 per match)
Spain, 22 goals
Top 3 goalscorers :
1- David (ESP), 7 goals
2- Hashim Mohamed (OMN), 5 goals
3- Fabio Pinto (BRA), 4 goals
*Host cities: *
Cairo, Ismailya, Alexandria and Port Saïd