CONMEBOL: Next generation to shine in Peru
The South American Youth Championship takes place in Peru from Sunday with ten teams hopeful of grabbing the title along with one of the four available places up for grabs in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup which takes place later in the year. The tournament which brought the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Alexandre Pato to worldwide acclaim welcomes in a new generation of potential superstars and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks back at the history of the event and previews this year’s tournament.
This competition came to life in 1954 and in the tournament’s early days it was neither Brazil nor Argentina who were to be the dominant force but Uruguay. They won the first three tournaments in 1954, 1958 and 1964 before suffering a drought in the next three events from 1967-1974 with Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina all claiming maiden titles. Uruguay then re-established their stronghold winning four successive titles from 1975-81 with all but the first title being won by a group stage format. The 1981 win would signal the end of Uruguay’s dominance as they haven’t won the trophy since. Brazil have been the main power since having won nine of the last 14 tournaments including a run of four successive wins from 1988-95. Argentina’s best period was winning three out of four tournaments between 1997-2003 with Colombia sneaking the 2005 title to finally get their hands on the trophy for a second time. After that Brazil have firmly re-positioned themselves as the dominant force at this level winning the most recent two championships in 2007 and 2009. Five countries – Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela – have yet to win the tournament.
This year’s tournament will be played in one of those five yet to be successful countries, namely Peru, with three stadiums based in the cities of Moquegua, Arequipa and Tacna hosting all of the matches. The first stage of the tournament, to be played from January 16-28, will see ten countries split into two groups of five with the top three in each group going through to the final group stage. All six teams in the final stage (January 31-February 12) will play each other once with the top team winning the tournament and going through to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup along with the teams placed in second, third and fourth. Colombia, as hosts of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, have already qualified for that competition so if they are one of the top four then the team finishing fifth will also go through. Two players to watch for this year include Brazil’s Neymar, a recent target for Chelsea FC who won both the Paulista and Copa do Brasil with his club Santos FC in 2010 and Argentina’s Rogerio Funes Mori who has featured regularly for River Plate in the last two years.
GROUP A (Argentina; Chile; Peru; Uruguay; Venezuela)
GROUP B (Brazil; Bolivia; Colombia; Ecuador; Paraguay)