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U-17 MNT Prepares for Group Play Finale vs. Ivory Coast at FIFA World Championship

U.S. Under-17 MNT Pre-Game Notes
Lima, Peru
Sept. 22, 2005

LOOKING FOR FIRST: After traveling from Chiclayo to Lima yesterday, the U.S. Under-17 MNT held their second training session this morning at Estadio Nacional, the venue for their third and final Group C match of the FIFA U-17 World Championship on Friday, Sept. 23 against Ivory Coast. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. CT and the match will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel and delayed on Galavision at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

GROUP C STANDINGS: The U.S. is poised to finish atop Group C going into their match against Ivory Coast, but interestingly they could still end up in second place behind either North Korea or Italy, the two teams they’ve already defeated in group play. If the U.S. were to lose and North Korea or Italy won, the teams would be tied on six points and first place would be decided by tie-breakers (goal differential is the first tiebreaker followed by goals scored). With zero points through their first two games, Ivory Coast has been mathematically eliminated from moving on to the second round. Below are the scenarios which guarantee the U.S. a first place finish in Group C without the need of tiebreakers:
• A victory or draw against Ivory Coast
• A loss against Ivory Coast AND a draw between Italy and North Korea FIFA U-17 World Championship, Group C

Team    GP    W      L     T     GF   GA     GD    Pts.
USA       2      2       0      0       6      3       +3        6
PRK       2      1       1      0       5      3       +2        3
ITA         2      1       1      0       5      6        -1        3
CIV        2      0       2      0       3      7        -4        0

  • For a complete quote sheet previewing the USA-Ivory Coast match, click here.

MEET YOU IN THE QUARTERS: While it is uncertain whether the U.S. will finish first or second in Group C, they do know they will be playing their quarterfinal match on Monday, Sept. 26 against a team from Group D. If they finish first, they will play the second place team from Group D in Trujillo. Should they finish second, they will take on the first place team in Group D in Iquitos. Gambia sits in the best position with six points after two games, while the Netherlands and Brazil are still hoping to win the group or finish in second as they both sit at three points. Qatar has yet to score a point, but still has an outside chance to finish in second place if they can defeat Brazil big and Gambia defeats the Netherlands, enabling them to jump up two spots with three points and a better goal differential.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: With the U.S. U-17s ready to close out group play on Friday against Ivory Coast and move into Monday's quarterfinals, we thought this would be as good a time as any to introduce fans to the team, "Monday Night Football" style. The players' personalities come through as they dance, joke and stumble their way through their own introductions in front of a tough crowd: their teammates (watch). It's the latest all_access video, exclusive content available only on

AUDIO DIARY THREE: After defeating Italy, traveling to Lima and conducting their first practice at Estadio Nacional, Blake Wagner and Quavas Kirk sat down with to update fans on what’s going on behind the scenes in their third audio diary podcast. Find out what was being said in the locker room during halftime against Italy, just how much the Peruvians love Vicky the Vicuna, who took a sneak peek at the team’s practice and what two players on the team have drawn the most interest from the Peruvian girls. [Podcast Archive]

ITALY COACHCAST: The U.S. might have surprised some doubters with their impressive 3-1 victory over Italy, but for head coach John Hackworth and the rest of the U-17 coaching staff, the game unfolded just as they planned it (well, almost). In the second installment of’s newest podcast segment, “CoachCast,” Hackworth and assistant Keith Fulk take a critical look at their match vs. Italy, from pre-game preparations to their halftime adjustments and post-game remarks. [CoachCast Archive]

SCOUTING IVORY COAST: U.S. assistant coach Tim Mulqueen once again sits down with to give his scouting report on the USA’s next opponent, Ivory Coast. Find out what Mulqueen sees as Ivory Coast's strengths and tendencies and what to expect from the African championship third-place finisher. [Podcast Archive]

SAFE ON CARDS: The U.S. has three players holding a single yellow card after the team’s first two matches. Michael Farfan and Blake Wagner were booked against North Korea, while David Arvizu was shown a card in the Italy match, which means no one is in danger of missing the quarterfinal match due to a single caution they may receive against Ivory Coast. During the tournament, a player must amass three cautions (not the customary two) before serving a one-game suspension. Ivory Coast is holding four yellow cards, but those will not figure into the game at all as Ivory Coast cannot advance.

MEANT TO BE BROKEN (OR TIED): Going into their final group match of the tournament, the U.S. has the chance to set, or at least tie, a few team records in world championship play:
• The U.S. has already scored six goals and three more would break the record for the most goals scored during group play. The U.S. set the current record of eight goals in the first round of play during the 1993 tournament before tying that number two years ago in Finland.
• The U.S. can become just the second team to win all three of their group games with a win over Ivory Coast, a feat that the 1991 team pulled off in Italy.
• With at least a tie, the U.S. would become the third team to go undefeated in group play, joining the 1991 team and the 4th place 1999 squad, who also went 2-0-1.
• With a victory, t goal differential, tying their best goal differential in group play set in 1991.

ANOTHER PACKED HOUSE: The U.S. played in front of another packed crowd at Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero when they faced Italy in their second group match on Tuesday. Despite playing on a weekday, the crowd (15,240) was actually larger (by 40 fans to be exact) than it was last Saturday for their opening match against North Korea, played before 15,200 fans. The combined attendance of 30,440 is the largest for back-to-back games in which the U.S. has played during a FIFA World Championship since the first two games of the 1997 tournament in Egypt, which was 42,000 (22,000 and 20,000). The U.S. has played in front of more fans during the first two games in Peru than it did in its four matches during the 2003 tournament in Finland.

IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Ryan Soroka entered the FIFA record books when he scored the 1,000th goal in the history of the U-17 World Championship with his open-net finish in the 90th minute against Italy. Soroka was informed of the mark after the game, stating “it’s pretty cool that I’ll be part of the history of this tournament forever.”

NAH-NAH-NAH, NAH-NAH-NAH: Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa’s 25-yard free-kick goal was highlighted on ESPN Deportes’ “Top Ten” on Tuesday night. The superb curling shot, which went over the wall into the upper left corner, was No. 5 on the countdown.

• The U.S. has played Ivory Coast once before during a FIFA U-17 World Championship, falling 1-0 in their second match of the 1987 competition, which was played in Canada.
• Overall, the U.S. has a 1-5-0 record against African teams in World Championship play, with two goals for and nine goals against. Their only victory, and goals, came against Sierra Leone two years ago when Freddy Adu pulled out a dramatic 2-1 victory by scoring in the final minute.
• The U.S. faced Ivory Coast once before during this two-year cycle, losing 1-0 to the African nation in the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee Tournament in Montaigu, France
• There were seven players who played in that match that are on the World Championship roster: Jeremy Hall, Ofori Sarkodie, Gabriel Farfan, Preston Zimmerman, Kevin Alston, Ryan Soroka and Quavas Kirk.
• The U.S. has played 11 of the 15 teams competing in the World Championship over the past two years. The four teams the U.S. has not played are Qatar, Turkey, Ghana and the Netherlands.
• Against those 11 teams, the U.S. holds a 9-6-1 record in 16 matches.
• The two other times the U.S. has won their first two games of the tournament (1991 and 2003), they finished in fifth place.
• Kyle Nakazawa scored the sixth international goal of his career when he buried a free kick against Italy, his second straight as he tallied off an indirect free kick against North Korea in USA’s opening match. All six of his goals have come this year, and have come on the biggest of stages with four of the six coming either in qualifying or the world championship.
• Preston Zimmerman increased his team lead to 33 points (12 goals, nine assists) with an assist on Ryan Soroka’s third goal against Italy.
• Defender Ofori Sarkodie notched his fourth international goal with his opening goal against Italy. The goal was his first since 2004.
• When the U.S. steps out onto the field against Ivory Coast, it will mark their 39th appearance in a U-17 World Championship match, moving them past Argentina and into sole possession of second place all-time. Brazil will increase its total for the most appearances when it takes the field for the 48th time against Qatar on Friday.
• The U.S. record in World Championship play now stands at 15-18-5, with 56 goals scored and 66 goals against.
• U.S. head coach John Hackworth increased his international record to 14-3-1 after defeating North Korea.
• In those 14 victories, Hackworth has managed to defeat 11 different countries


HOW THEY GOT HERE: Back in the FIFA U-17 World Championship after an 18-year absence, Ivory Coast had high hopes of matching the exploits of their predecessors in 1987, when the Ivorians finished in third place after losing to the Soviet Union in the semifinals. The fans of the ‘Baby Elephants’ had little to cheer about since then, until this year’s African U-17 Championship as Ivory Coast earned the last available ticket to Peru 2005 by finishing in third place. The ‘Baby Elephants’ got their campaign under way with a comfortable 2-0 win over Zimbabwe, before creating one of the sensations of the tournament. Edging out the favorites Nigeria 3-2 in a thrilling match, they booked their place in the last four and could then afford to lose their last Group B game 1-0 to South Africa.

Pitted against Ghana in the semifinals, the clash lived up to its promise, and it was in extra time that the ‘Black Starlets' finally emerged victorious. Out of the running for the continental title, but with one last place at the global event still up for grabs, Ivory Coast had to pick themselves up quickly for a second meeting with South Africa in the match for third place. Once again, they found themselves in an extremely tight encounter, but just as it seemed that extra time was in the cards, Kouadio Konan popped up to net a priceless, late winner.

2005 African U-17 Championship
Group B Matches

Ivory Coast 2, Zimbabwe 0
Ivory Coast 3, Nigeria 2
Ivory Coast 0, South Africa 1

Ghana 2, Ivory Coast 0
Third Place Match
Ivory Coast 1, South Africa 0
Gambia 1, Ghana 0

U.S.-IVORY COAST HISTORY: This will be the second match against Ivory Coast for the U.S. Under-17s as the two countries faced off a year-and-a-half ago in the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee Tournament in Montaigu, France. The U.S. fell 1-0 in their first meeting, their final group match of the tournament, despite having a 9-3 shot advantage. The U.S. and Ivory Coast also have a history in the FIFA U-17 World Championship as they have faced off once before during the 1987 tournament in Canada. The two teams met in the second group match, with Ivory Coast pulling out a tight 1-0 win.

STAR PLAYER: Called the “Star of the future in African football,” the bar has been set high for Ivory Coast’s Ismael Beko Fofana. So far, he’s wooed onlookers, scoring four goals in qualifying and already one in the world championship. A product of Asec Abidjan's Mimos Sifcom academy, Fofana may not be the most powerful forward, but he’s got a knack for finding the goal.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: The only other time Ivory Coast played in a FIFA U-17 World Championship was Canada ‘87, but they made the most of it with an impressive performance that saw them make their way through to the semifinals and eventually claim third place. After an opening 1-1 draw with South Korea, the ‘Baby Elephants’ downed the U.S. and Ecuador by identical 1-0 scorelines. They cruised through their quarterfinal match with a 3-0 defeat over Qatar, only to fall 5-1 to a fantastic Soviet Union side which eventually won the entire tournament. Ivory Coast bounced back in the third place match, defeating Italy 2-1 in overtime.

FIRST GROUP GAMES: Ivory Coast’s opening match against Italy qualified as an instant classic as there were goals aplenty (seven total), and back-and forth drama including three tallies in the final five minutes. Ivory Coast was able to respond to Italy’s first three tallies, but ran out of time after Italy’s final strike in the 89th minute to fall 4-3 in Chiclayo. In the ‘Baby Elephants’ next match, they were unable to respond at any time as North Korea scored three goals while securing a shutout.

Ivory Coast vs. Italy
September 17, 2005, Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero; Chiclayo, Peru, 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
Italy                 4        Tiboni (21, 32), Mandorlini (86), Foti (89)
Ivory Coast      3       Diomande (27), Fofana (53), Kouassi (87)

ITA: 1-Enrico Alfonso; 2-Davide Brivio, 3-Lorenzo De Silvestri (capt.), 5-Michele Cremonesi; 6-Daniele Greco, 7-Tommaso D’Attoma (10-Andrea Russotto, 46 ; 19-Marco Dalla Costa, 76)), 8-Simone Palmero, 15-Matteo Mandorlini, 19-Marco Mancosu; 9-Cristian Tiboni (4-Manuel Angelucci, 56), 11-Salvatore Foti.

CIV: 1-Ikossie Tahourou; 2-Ali Keita, 4-Romaric Bosson (capt.), 6-Jules Agoussi, 18-Siaka Bamba; 3-Irenee Kouakou, 7-Martial Yao (11-Ismael Fofana, 46), 8-Pacome Kouassi (15-Diarra Vamara, 46); 9-Koffi Kouassi, 10-Alassane Diomande, 12-Serge Kouandio (14-Moustapha Abdul, 92+).

Ivory Coast vs. North Korea
September 20, 2003, Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero; Chiclayo, Peru, 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
Ivory Coast       0
North Korea      3       Choe (9, 38), Kim (44)

CIV: 1-Ikossie Tahourou (16-Andy Yves, 46); 2-Ali Keita, 4-Romaric Bosson (capt.), 6-Jules Agoussi, 18-Siaka Bamba; 3-Irenee Kouakou, 5-Marius Gnabouyou, 11-Ismael Fofana, 9-Koffi Kouassi; 10-Alassane Diomande (15-Diarra Vamara, 64), 12-Serge Kouandio (14-Moustapha Abdul, 59)

PRK: 1-Kwang Min Ju; 5-Nan Chol Pak, 7-Yong II Yun, 13-Kwang Ik Jon
(capt.) (17-Kyong Nam Mun, 41), 16-Sok Chol Pin; 9-Myong Ho Choe (4-Chol Ryong Pak, 88), 12-Kuk Jin Kim, 8-Chol Myong Ri, 19-Kyong II Kim; 10-Hung Ryong Ri, 11-Chol Min Pak (18-Chol Min Jong, 83)

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