With India all set to host it's first ever FIFA Under-17 World Cup, 24 teams from across the globe will descend in India to take part in the tournament spread across six different venues.
As the kickoff to the tournament in October fast approaches, we take a look at one of the contenders in the form of the French Under-17 team.
We provide a brief guide to the squad's journey to the World Cup, the coach, tactics, key players and more.
The French football factory has been churning out eye-popping talents by the minute in recent years. With the recent emergence of young sensations in the form of Kylian Mpappe and Ousmane Dembele amongst many others, it is quite clear that the French youth set up is doing something right.
It is an exciting time for the French National setup with the plethora of talent available at their disposal. With the youth set up flourishing, much is expected of the Under 17 squad and come October, there will be quite a few eyes waiting to see the next generation of French superstars emerge.
Confederation : UEFA(Europe)
Nicknames : Les Bleus, Les Tricolores
Coach : Lionel Rouxel
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
The Les Bleus have tasted success previously in the FIFA Under 17 World Cup going all the way to lift it in 2001 in Trinidad and Tobago. They have also reached the quarter finals on three separate occasions.
They were eliminated in the Round of 16 in the last edition of the tournament and they will be backing themselves to go much further this time.
The French have had a much more successful time in the UEFA Euro Under 17 competition winning the grand prize twice, once in 2001 and their most recent success coming in the 2015 edition. They have also finished runners-up in 2002 and 2008.
ROAD TO UNDER-17 WORLD CUP
The French Under 17 team took part in the 16th edition of the UEFA Euro Under 17 Championship in Croatia at the start of the year. This event also served as the qualifying event of the 2017 FIFA Under 17 World Cup with the top five teams booking their tickets for the showdown in India.
France advanced to the quarter finals of the tournament where they went down 1-3 to eventual Champions Spain. However, courtesy of being one the two best losing quarter finalists, France advanced to a FIFA Under 17 World Cup play-off against Hungary whom they beat 1-0 to book the last European spot on the plane to India.
Striker Amine Gouiri was the top scorer in the UEFA Euro Under 17 championship with 8 goals including the decisive goal against Hungary in the World Cup play-off.
TEAM COACH AND IDEOLOGY
The team is led by Lionel Rouxel, a 46 year old former striker who plied his trade in the French Ligue 1 for clubs like EA Guingamp and RC Strasbourg.
After hanging up his boots in 2002, the Frenchman took a turn to coaching. He has built up considerable experience while being the Under 18 coach for his ex-club EA Guingamp since 2006.
The Les Bleus have been built around coach Lionel Rouxel’s image. Being an ex-striker himself, Rouxel has placed great emphasis on the attacking aspect his side.
The squad is filled with highly technical players of great potential especially in attack and the team will be looking to utilize their technical prowess to put the opposition on the back foot from the very start.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
In the past, the French Under 17 squad has thrown up talents like Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri and Hatem Ben Arfa amongst others who have gone on to establish themselves in the senior squad and the French Football Federation will be looking for some similar future stars to emerge from the current group. The key players to keep an eye on are :-
Amine Gouiri – The Olympique Lyonnais man is one of the most exciting prospects of this World Cup. A striker with high technical skills, he will be looking to hurt opposition defenses with this incredible pace and finishing. The Frenchman was instrumental in the squad's quaification campaign top scoring with 8 goals in the UEFA Euro Under 17 championship. The 17 year old is already being touted as the next big thing to emerge from the prestigious Olympique Lyonnais academy and big things are expected from his come the World Cup.
Maxence Caqueret – Another Lyon youngster, the midfielder is the captain of the French squad. A player with a very mature head for his age, Maxence is expected to lead from the front with his ability to control the midfield crucial for his side’s progress.
Yacine Adli – a product of the Paris Saint-Germain F.C Academy, the forward is one of the best prospects in the Academy Batch of 2000 and he will be expected to provide the fireworks up top along with Amine.