Host S. Korea avoids powerhouses in group stage for FIFA U-20 World Cup

March 14, 2017

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) — Host South Korea has avoided powerhouses in the group stage for this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.

FIFA on Tuesday unveiled its four “pots” for the quadrennial event set to open on May 20 in South Korea, with six host cities staging matches for 24 nations.

Countries in the same pot will not be drawn into the same group. The 24 countries will be paired into six groups, and the top two teams from each, plus the four best third-place nations, will reach the knockout stage.

As the host, South Korea has been automatically dropped into the A1 slot, meaning the country will be in Group A.

The 23 other qualified teams were allocated to four pots — six nations in each — according to the ranking based on their recent performances. The ranking was built with total points from the past five FIFA U-20 World Cups, with the more recent tournaments worth more than earlier events. Five extra points were awarded to countries that won their regional qualifying tournaments.

The five other countries alongside South Korea in Pot 1 are Portugal, Uruguay, France, the United States and Germany.

France won last year’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship, which doubled as the continental qualification for the U-20 World Cup. The United States and Uruguay also won their respective qualifying tournaments.

The draw is scheduled for Wednesday in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, one of the six host cities.

South Korea’s best U-20 World Cup showing came in 1983 in Mexico, where the country placed fourth behind Brazil, Argentina and Poland. South Korea hasn’t reached semifinals since then.

Pot 2 nations are Mexico, Argentina, New Zealand, Senegal, Japan and Costa Rica.

Zambia, Honduras, England, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Venezuela are in Pot 3. Ecuador, South Africa, Iran, Vietnam, Guinea and Vanuatu are in Pot 4.

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