U-20 Men Set for World Youth Championship Opener on Monday in Kano, Nigeria
KANO, Nigeria (Sunday, April 4, 1999) - On the eve of the USA's opening match of the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship here in Nigeria, the American squad will undergo one training this evening at the Sani Abachi Stadium. The National Team then will face England tomorrow at 7 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) in this Northern Nigerian city.
"We're confident but not overconfident," said head coach Sigi Schmid. "If anything, we're extremely anxious and ready to get after it. You get to a point where you say ?that's enough, let's play' and that's where we are right now."
The USA is playing in its seventh World Youth Championship and will attempt to avenge the 0-1 opening round loss to England at the 1993 World Youth Championship in Australia. England is the only one of the USA's three, opening-round opponents that it has faced in a previous world youth championship.
After playing England in the opener, the Americans will face Japan (April 8) and Cameroon (April 11), both at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi. Japan finished as runners-up in the Asian qualifying tournament, while Cameroon, who the U.S. will face in its final group match, finished fourth in the African Youth Championship.
The top two teams in each of the six opening groups, as well as the four best third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16 in Nigeria.
The world championship opened on Saturday with a bit of a shocker, as Costa Rica, who finish second to the United States in CONCACAF Group A qualifying, scored a second-half penalty kick to tie host Nigeria, 1-1, in Lagos.
In a show of good will on Saturday, the U-20 players passed out Nike soccer balls to approximately 60 local youngsters who had attended the USA's training each day since arrival. Though the training pitch at Bayero University Kano is surrounded by a fence, the 60 Nigerian youths were ushered through the gates by team officials and watched the training session up close. After training concluded the American players handed each boy a ball.
"It was a great feeling to see their faces when we gave them the balls because you could tell that they didn't have much." said U.S. forward Jamar Beasley. "It was only a small effort on our part, but you could see that it meant a lot to them."