The group stage draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 took place Monday evening at the Grand Tarabya Hotel in Istanbul. The event was greeted with great fan fare that showcased the culture of the country. It was a spectacular treat that left mouths wide open including the crème de la crème of world football and football legends.
Shortly after the Turkish band Gece performed a rousing rendition of the official song of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013, Yildizlar Buradan Yukseliyor meaning ‘The Stars Rise From Here’, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke took to the stage for the draw ceremony itself.
He was assisted by four famous names from Turkish footballing history: renowned coaches and former Turkey bosses Fatih Terim and Mustafa Denizli, who teamed up with former world-class striker and Turkey’s all-time top scorer Hakan Sukur, Rustu Recber, the nation's most-capped international.
The draw, which was made in sight of the brand new FIFA U-20 World Cup Trophy saw the 24 competing teams learned the names of their opponents and the host cities for their group stage matches.
Host nation, Turkey will square up against El Salvador, Colombia and Australia in group C in what has been described as the toughest draws of the night. Another interesting pairing saw USA, France, Spain plus a yet to be named team in Africa paired together in Group A.
However, the Flying Eagles of Nigeria will have to wait till the end of the ongoing Africa Youth Championships to know where they exactly stand. Should they become African champions on March 30, they automatically find themselves in Group E where they will take on England, Iraq and Chile. And if the reverse is the case, they may be zoned in Group A, B, or D of the tournament to be decided in a special draw.
Two of the most successful teams in this competition Brazil and Argentina will be missing in action because they failed to qualify from their South American zone.
The World Youth Championship will be played from 21 June to 13 July in the seven host cities of Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon.
FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 group stage draw:
GROUP A (Istanbul, Kayseri): France, CAF, USA, and Spain.
GROUP B (Kayseri, Istanbul): Cuba, Korea Republic, CAF, Portugal
GROUP C (Trabzon, Rize, Gaziantep): Turkey, El Salvador, Colombia, Australia
GROUP D (Gaziantep, Trabzon): Mexico, Greece, Paraguay, CAF
GROUP E (Antalya, Bursa): Chile, CAF Champions, England, Iraq
GROUP F (Bursa, Antalya): OFC Champions, Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Croatia