Testing U-20 World Cup draw for African sides

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Zambia, Guinea, South Africa and Senegal learned their first-round opponents in Wednesday’s draw

Africa’s quartet of participants in the U-20 World Cup learned their group stage opponents on Wednesday when the six first-round pools were drawn.

Zambia, the reigning U-20 African champions, have been handed a tough assignment to reach the knockout stages after being pooled alongside Portugal, Costa Rica and Iran in Group C.

The Junior Chipolopolo won the continental showpiece on home soil last week when they bested Senegal’s youth side in Lusaka in front of buoyant home support.

However, they have their work cut out to advance in the tournament in South Korea which will kick off on May 20.

Defeated African finalists Senegal are up against the United States, Ecuador and Saudi Arabia, and have a good opportunity of proving that they are the continent’s brightest collection of young talents, despite their recent disappointment.

Elsewhere, African Youth Championship bronze medallists Guinea will meet hosts South Korea on the opening day in Jeonju and will be aware that they can ill afford to drop points after being joined in an ominous Group A alongside old foe England and Argentina.

The South Americans, in particular, are considered among the favourites for the title as they look to add to their record six U-20 titles.

Finally, South Africa also have a major mountain to climb as they look to improve on their showing in Zambia, when they ousted Cameroon and Sudan in the group before falling to an extra-time defeat by the eventual champions in the quarters.

Despite their tough opening draw, Africa’s quartet know that they could even reach the knockout stages if they finish third in their groups, with the top two sides in each pool and the four best-placed third-placed sides all advancing to the Round of 16.

Complete U-20 World Cup Draw

Group A: South Korea, Argentina, England, Guinea

Group B: Germany, Mexico, Venezuela, Vanuatu

Group C: Portugal, Costa Rica, Zambia, Iran

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Group D: Uruguay, Japan, Italy, South Africa

Group E: France, New Zealand, Honduras, Vietnam

Group F: USA, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador

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