The USA faces first-time finalists Belgium and Tajikstan and Tunisia in Group E at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea, which will take place Aug. 18-Sept. 9 in seven venues.
The U.S. U-17s, one of the seeded teams in Thursday's draw in Seoul, open against Tajikistan
on Aug. 20 in Changwon, then face Tunisia three days later and conclude group play on Aug. 26 against Belgium in Cheonan.
Tajikistan will be competing in its first-ever World Cup at any
level, as one of four teams to qualify from Asia. The Tajiks, who have a full-time residency program, beat Iraq (1-0), Iran (2-1) and Yemen (4-3) to advance into the quarterfinals, where it beat
South Korea, 1-0, to book a trip to the World Cup.
Belgium, which lost to eventual champion Spain on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the recent European U-17 championships, qualified
for the U-17 World Cup for the first time. Tunisia is the lone U.S. opponent with experience at the U-17 finals, having competed in 1993.
"On paper, it's a very favorable draw for
us, however, in my experience at the Under-17 World Cup you never know really what's going to happen because at this age level things are definitely a little unpredictable," said U.S. U-17 coach
. "We know very little about Tajikistan and Tunisia, so that is going to be a huge challenge for us. We do know a little about Belgium, but we
have some work to do to get prepared for all of our teams in Group E. It will be very interesting come this August when we kick off the World Cup."
to listen to Hackworth's analysis of the Under-17 World Cup draw.)
The draw pitted South American powerhouses
Argentina and Brazil against Spain and England, the No. 1 and No. 2 European teams, respectively. Spain will enter with the tournament's most heralded player, Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic
. UNDER-17 WORLD CUP DRAW: Group A
A3. Costa Rica
A4. Togo Group B
B1. North Korea
B4. New Zealand Group C
C4. Syria Group D
D4. Haiti Group E
E4. USA Group
F3. Trinidad & Tobago