Monday, May 11, 2009

U-17 CONMEBOL Completed, UEFA Taking Shape

Colombia and Uruguay have clinched the third and fourth South American places at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup by virtue of a four-team playoff.

As Brazil defeated Argentina in the regional championship to take the crown, with both teams already assured of a place in Nigeria, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia battled it out for the two remaining places. Uruguay made quick work of the final phase, drawing Bolivia before defeating Colombia and Ecuador to earn its World Cup berth.

Meanwhile, Colombia (home country of U.S. U-17 head coach Wilmer Cabrera) took it to the wire by bouncing back from a loss to Uruguay to top Ecuador 3-0 and Bolivia 2-1 to secure its passage to Nigeria.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, host Germany claimed the first semifinal berth at the UEFA U-17 Championship, thereby clinching the region's first spot in Nigeria. By virtue of a 3-1 win against Turkey and a comprehensive 4-0 win against England, Germany took control of Group B at home. The Netherlands outlasted Turkey to book their place in Nigeria as one of six European teams and are now looking for a place in the semifinals from Group B.

In UEFA's Group A, Switzerland has locked up the top place in Group A, along with a semifinal berth and trip to the '09 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Italy, Spain and France are all looking to secure trips to Nigeria on Tuesday when group play wraps up.

UEFA is the last region to finish qualifying for the event, and when the final three teams are decided on Tuesday, the 24-team field will be complete.

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