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U.S. Under-17 Men Draw North Korea, Italy and Ivory Coast in Group Play for 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship

CHICAGO (July 16, 2005) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group C with North Korea, Ivory Coast and Italy for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru, which will take place from September 16-October 2.

The U.S. opens against North Korea (Korea DPR) on Sept. 17 at 12:45 p.m. CT, before facing Italy on Sept. 20 (3:30 p.m. CT) and concludes group play on Sept. 23 (3:30 p.m. CT) against Ivory Coast. The U.S. will play their first two group matches against North Korea and Italy at Elias Aguirre Stadium in Chiclayo, before moving to Lima to face Ivory Coast in their third and final group match at Nacional Stadium. Every U.S. match at the World Youth Championship can be followed live via’s MatchTracker, presented by Phillips Electronics.

"I think it’s a pretty even draw across the board and I’m happy with our placement in Group C,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth. “We played Ivory Coast and Italy about a year-and-a-half ago in France, so we do know at least a little about them. We don’t know much about North Korea, but we’ll no doubt get some information as we prepare for the world championship. Now that we know who we will be going up against, I’m just looking forward to our preparations over the next couple months.”

Click here for more quotes from Hackworth

The U.S. is the only country that has taken part in all ten of the previous world championships at this age group. The best finish ever for the U.S. came in New Zealand ‘99, when the U-17s, led by Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey, advanced to the semifinals and eventually finished in fourth place.

The 16-team field is divided into four groups of four, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The 32-match tournament will take place in five venues across Peru, with games in Trujillo, Lima, Chiclayo, Piura and Iquitos. Iquitos, which is located in the northeastern province of the country on the banks of the Amazon River in the heart of the Peruvian jungle, was a last-minute venue addition. The fifth venue is quite a distance from the other four venues, which are all located along the Pacific Ocean, and is only reachable by river or air. The U.S. will only travel to Iquitos if they finish second in Group C, playing their quarterfinal match against the winner of Group D at the venue.

Click here for the full tournament schedule

In their opening match, the U.S. will have their hands full with the runner-up in the AFC U-17 Championship, which took place last September. North Korea lacks international experience, as this will be their first-ever FIFA U-17 World Championship, but is a disciplined and determined squad and is looking to be a dark horse in Peru. The U.S. has never faced North Korea in a FIFA U-17 World Championship and holds a 3-5-1 overall record against Asian teams.

The U.S. and Italy will meet for the second time as the two countries battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening of the 2004 Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee Tournament in Montaigu, France, last April. U.S. midfielder Quavas Kirk, who is coming along well after suffering a broken foot that put him out of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, scored the lone goal for the U.S. in the draw. Italy finished third in UEFA qualifying, defeating Croatia 2-1 in overtime to punch their ticket to Peru.

The U.S. last faced Italy in a U-17 World Championship when the European power hosted the tournament in 1991, pulling off a 1-0 victory. The win was just one of two the U.S. has against European teams in the competition as they hold a 2-4-2 overall record.

The U.S. will be looking to avenge their 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast in Montaigu in April 2004 as they face the African nation making their first appearance in a FIFA U-17 World Championship in 18 years. The U.S. actually was grouped with Ivory Coast in that competition in 1987, which took place in Canada, falling 2-1 in their second group game. The “Baby Elephants” advanced to this year’s competition by finishing third in their qualifying tournament and will no doubt provide the U.S. with a tough final group match. The U.S. will be looking for just their second victory over an African nation in the competition.

The U.S. finished with seven points to win their qualifying tournament in April for the third straight time to advance to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship. The U-17s defeated El Salvador and Costa Rica and drew 1-1 with Cuba.

Since taking over as head coach of the Under-17s in October of last year after being an assistant under John Ellinger for over two years, Hackworth has compiled a 7-1-2 in international matches, which included an eight-game unbeaten streak before running into defending world champions Brazil this past week. Overall, the Under-17s have compiled a 12-10-6 international record since joining U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program in September of 2003.

This will be the 20th anniversary of the FIFA U-17 World Championship, with the first ever world championship for this age group (which started out a U-16 tournament) taking place in 1985 to huge crowds in China. A number of talented players have played in a U-17 World Championship, including Luis Figo, Alessandro Del Piero, Juan Veron, Francesco Totti and Ronaldinho. A total of 67 players that have taken part in a U-17 World Championship have gone on to represent their countries at the FIFA World Cup, with two playing in a final – Ronaldinho (Brazil) and Emmanuel Petit (France).