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USA headed to strife-torn region
by Paul Kennedy, August 10th, 2009 6:45AM

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[UNDER-17 WORLD CUP] Despite a reign of terror brought on last month by the extremist Muslim sect known as Boko Haram, the Under-17 World Cup will go on in Kano, where the USA will face Spain on Oct. 26 and Malawi on Oct. 29 before moving to Ijebu-Ode to close out the first round against UAE on Nov. 1.

Kano is one of the major cities in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has sought to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose strict Muslim law.

A curfew was imposed last month in Kano after clashes between Muslim Hausas and Christian Yorubas.

Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed 10 days ago, and about 700 people died in fighting in the Muslim-dominated north.

FIFA had issued an ultimatum in June, warning Nigeria that it would pull the event if a government guarantee was made that the venues would be ready.
 
The USA is the only country to qualify for all 13 U-17 World Cups dating back to 1985.
 
"We knew that whatever group we were going to be placed into would have three good teams," said U.S. U-17 coach Wilmer Cabrera after the draw. "We are familiar with Spain a little bit because we played them [in February], and we know that Malawi and UAE will be difficult. It's not easy to qualify from Europe, Africa or from Asia so we know we will have to play well if we are going to advance. The three teams in our group have very different styles, so it should be very interesting."

The U.S. opponents:

-- Spain qualified as one of six teams from Europe at the 2009 UEFA U-17 Championship, where three consecutive 0-0 draws were enough to earn third place in the group.

-- Malawi replaced Zambia as one of four teams to qualify from the African U-17 Championship after Zambia was disqualified from the competition. Malawi will be competing in the country's first FIFA tournament.
 
-- The United Arab Emirates overcame a shaky start to the 2008 AFC U-16 Championship to book their place in Nigeria with a 3-2 win over Australia in the quarterfinals.

DRAW:
Group A: Nigeria, Germany, Honduras, Argentina
Group B: Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland
Group C: Iran, Gambia, Colombia, Netherlands
Group D: Turkey, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, New Zealand
Group E: UAE, Malawi, Spain, USA
Group F: Uruguay, South Korea, Algeria, Italy

 



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