Brazil, traditionally one of the favourites ahead of the Under-20 World Cup, will go into the 2015 tournament in New Zealand without coach Alexandre Gallo, who was sacked following a poor fourth place at the South American Under-20 Championship in Uruguay. He had also been due to take charge of next year’s Olympic team and that responsibility will now fall to Brazil’s senior coach, Dunga.
Gallo had made drastic changes to the squad that will now travel to New Zealand under his replacement Rogerio Micale. His list of 26 players included just nine of the players who went to Uruguay in January.
There was no place for Atletico Paranaense’s Chelsea-bound midfielder Nathan, who did well at under-17 level but badly in Uruguay. Much more surprising was the absence of Fluminense’s Gerson, a left-footed midfielder of undoubted pedigree. His exclusion may have been the final straw for new federation boss Marco Polo Del Nero, and the news of Gallo’s sacking was announced at a strange time – late on Friday night, where it was “buried” by the start of the Brazilian championship. On the previous Tuesday, Dunga had held a press conference to announce Brazil’s Copa America squad.
Amid the confusion, there was a place in Brazil’s squad for Manchester United’s Belgian-born midfielder Andreas Pereira.
Argentina, the winners of January’s South American Under-20s, will take a strong squad to New Zealand. Coached by Humberto Grondona, son of the late Argentinian FA overlord Julio, the squad contains a number of promising players, including River Plate’s Gio Simeone (the son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego), Atletico forward Angel Correa and Real Madrid-bound goalkeeper Augusto Batalla.
In the absence of 2013 champions France, the European challenge is likely to come from Germany and Portugal, the two finalists from the most recent European Under-19 championship. Germany can call upon that competition’s top scorer, Davie Selke of Werder Bremen, while Portugal’s hopes are pinned on forwards Andre Silva of Porto’s B team and Rony Lopes, who has been on loan at Lille from Manchester City.
Mexico have high hopes after winning the CONCACAF under-20 championship, where the goals of striker Hirving Lozano were crucial, while the USA have received clearance from FIFA to include Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem in their squad. The youngster was born in Germany but lived in the US for six years before moving to London.
The Asian challenge will be led by Qatar, the surprise winners of the most recent regional under-19 championship. Their top scorer from that tournament, Ahmed Al Saadi, is one of a number of players who play for the controversial Belgian club Eupen.
Hosts New Zealand are coached by former Watford, Wolves and Walsall defender Darren Bazeley and their squad includes Alex Rufer, son of ex-international Shane and nephew of Wynton.
May 30 New Zealand v Ukraine Auckland
May 30 United States v Myanmar Whangarei
Jun 2 Myanmar v Ukraine Whangarei
Jun 2 New Zealand v United States Auckland
Jun 5 Myanmar v New Zealand Wellington
Jun 5 Ukraine v United States Auckland
May 30 Argentina v Panama Wellington
May 30 Ghana v Austria Wellington
Jun 2 Argentina v Ghana Wellington
Jun 2 Austria v Panama Wellington
Jun 5 Austria v Argentina Wellington
Jun 5 Panama v Ghana Auckland
May 31 Qatar v Colombia Hamilton
May 31 Portugal v Senegal Hamilton
Jun 3 Qatar v Portugal Hamilton
Jun 3 Senegal v Colombia Hamilton
Jun 6 Senegal v Qatar Hamilton
Jun 6 Colombia v Portugal Dunedin
May 31 Mexico v Mali Dunedin
May 31 Uruguay v Serbia Dunedin
Jun 3 Mexico v Uruguay Dunedin
Jun 3 Serbia v Mali Dunedin
Jun 6 Mali v Uruguay Hamilton
Jun 6 Serbia v Mexico Dunedin
Jun 1 Nigeria v Brazil New Plymouth
Jun 1 North Korea v Hungary New Plymouth
Jun 4 Nigeria v North Korea New Plymouth
Jun 4 Hungary v Brazil New Plymouth
Jun 7 Brazil v North Korea Christchurch
Jun 7 Hungary v Nigeria New Plymouth
Jun 1 Germany v Fiji Christchurch
Jun 1 Uzbekistan v Honduras Christchurch
Jun 4 Germany v Uzbekistan Christchurch
Jun 4 Honduras v Fiji Christchurch
Jun 7 Honduras v Germany Christchurch
Jun 7 Fiji v Uzbekistan Whangarei
ROUND OF 16
Jun 10 Gp B 1st v Gp A/C/D 3rd Wellington 37
Jun 10 Gp D 1st v Gp B/E/F 3rd Dunedin 38
Jun 10 Gp A 2nd v Gp C 2nd Wellington 39
Jun 10 Gp A 1st v Gp C/D/E 3rd Auckland 40
Jun 11 Gp B 2nd v Gp F 2nd Whangarei 42
Jun 11 Gp F 1st v Gp E 2nd Christchurch 41
Jun 11 Gp C 1st v Gp A/B/F 3rd Hamilton 43
Jun 11 Gp E 1st v Gp D 2nd New Plymouth 44
Jun 14 44 winner v 43 winner Hamilton 45
Jun 14 37 winner v 41 winner Christchurch 46
Jun 14 39 winner v 38 winner Auckland 47
Jun 14 42 winner v 40 winner Wellington 48
Jun 17 45 winner v 48 winner Christchurch
Jun 17 47 winner v 46 winner Auckland
Jun 20 Auckland
Jun 20 Auckland