The Final Draw for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 took place on Thursday, with the 24 participating nations discovering who they will be facing in the group stage and where - key information that will help them with their preparations for the tournament kick-off on Saturday 17 October.
The hosts will be one of the main attractions on that opening day, which they will bring to a close when they take on Group A opponents Croatia in Santiago. Defending champion Nigeria and USA complete that group. In the day’s other stand-out match, Brazil begin their Group B campaign against Korea Republic in Coquimbo.
Without doubt the toughest group – the ubiquitous "Group of Death" – is Group C which contains European and South American powerhouses Germany and Argentina, as well as Australia and Mexico.
"A contribution to growth the game globally"
The draw ceremony was held in the theatre at the Centro de las Artes 660, one of Santiago’s main cultural landmarks, and was attended by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
Joining her was Sunil Gulati, a FIFA Executive Committee member and the chairperson of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Organising Committee; Cristian Varela, the chairperson of the Chile 2017 Local Organising Committee (LOC); Sergio Jadue, the chairperson of the Chilean National Professional Football Association (ANFP); and representatives of the local authorities in the tournament’s host cities.
Presiding over the ceremony were well-known journalist Carolina Escobar and famous TV presenter Julian Elfenbein. The first round of applause of the evening came when they invited former Chile U-17 player Dante Poli and current Roja star David Pizarro to step up to the stage and respectively present the Official Match Ball and the Trophy.
In then extending a warm welcome to the near 400 guests and more than 100 journalists in attendance, Jadue said: “Each time we have had to organise such a major international event, we have done it with hierarchy, with excellence, and pride, following our capability of being great hosts. The organisation of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 will put our country back in the centre of the world, and will allow us to play host to a great party.”
He was followed onto the stage by Gulati, who delivered a short message where he invited to see "the tournament in Chile as part of a bigger picture, due to the fact it will be a key contribution to growth of our game globally," before making way for the acting Minister of Sport Nicole Sáez, who read a message from President Bachelete to those assembled: “There is no doubt in my mind that the beauty of our land and the warmth of our people will the ideal context for the 24 national teams to make this tournament an expression of peace, joy and future," she highlighted.
Then it was time for a little music as Chilean singer-songwriter DJ Mendez, the man behind the tournament’s Official Song, took centre stage with Brochico, the Official Mascot, to entertain the audience with his catchy tune.
The musical interlude preceded the high point of the evening and the draw itself, with the Draw Assistants each receiving a warm round of applause as they stepped up.
Leading the way was legendary striker Ivan Zamorano, who was followed onto the stage by the Chilean national women’s team player Christiane Endler, Jean Beausejour, the gymnast Tomas Gonzalez, Marcelo Salas, inline speed skater Maria Jose Moya, Elias Figueroa and Pizarro.
After explaining the procedure that the assistants would follow, FIFA Event Manager Jaime Yarza set the eagerly awaited draw in motion.
“Group C is the most difficult, because it features both Argentina and Mexico, with Germany and Australia,” said Marcelo Salas once the draw had been completed, with the groups displayed in full behind him.
The evening’s events came to a close with the FIFA and LOC dignitaries posing side by side for a photograph.
Group A (Santiago, Vina del Mar, Coquimbo): Chile, Croatia, Nigeria, USA
Group B (La Serena, Coquimbo, Vina del Mar): England, Guinea, Brazil, Korea Republic
Group C (Chillan, Talca): Australia, Germany, Mexico, Argentina
Group D (Talca, Chillan): Belgium, Mali, Honduras, Ecuador
Group E (Concepcion, Puerto Montt): South Africa, Costa Rica, Korea DPR, Russia
Group F (Puerto Montt, Concepcion): New Zealand, France, Syria, Paraguay