Despite a slip-up on the final matchday, Argentina emerged victorious at the South American U-17 Championship Peru 2019 and will head up the region’s representatives at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019.
Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador secured the remaining three berths, with Brazil qualifying as hosts – this despite their surprise elimination at the group stage in Peru, the first time in their history they failed to grace the tournament’s second phase.
Meanwhile, Uruguay, 2011 world runners-up in this age group, missed out on their third consecutive World Cup after an agonising stoppage-time defeat to Peru in their final matchday.
The hosts looked to have secured their own qualification with that late winner only for Ecuador to deny them on goal difference with a dramatic 4-1 defeat of Argentina in the final game.
FIFA.com reviews the performances of the successful quartet at a tournament where all the fixtures were played on artificial turf at Lima’s Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos stadium.
Pablo Aimar’s young side certainly had a shaky start, conceding twice to Uruguay in the first five minutes of their opening game. After that defeat, things gradually improved, although they still had it all to do in their final group game against old foes Brazil.
Requiring victory by a three-goal margin to reach the hexagonal final group phase, La Albiceleste duly delivered, capping a dominant display with the all-important third goal deep into stoppage-time. From then on, they cemented their status as the best team at the tournament with resolute defending and excellent use of the ball.
By the time they faced Ecuador in their final fixture they had gone five games without conceding and booked their place in Brazil. And despite a crazy final 30 minutes against the Mini-Tri, in which they shipped four goals, they had done enough to take top spot on goal difference and secure their fourth regional crown in this category.
- Brazil 2019 will be their fifth World Cup and third in a row
- Key figures: Alexander Aravena (forward), Vicente Pizarro (midfielder)
La Rojita showed character at difficult moments on the way to a second-place finish in Peru. Hernan Caputto’s side bounced back from a poor start to the group phase to string together four successive wins (scoring 11 goals) to reach the hexagonal phase and even lead it.
Argentina then halted their progress with a 2-0 win, and in their next game, their qualification hopes looked to have been further dented when Uruguay raced into a 2-0 lead. However, they turned things around with a stirring second-half comeback to triumph 4-2.
Chile scored the most goals (17) and conceded the fewest (9) at Peru 2019.
- Set to play in their third consecutive World Cup and fifth overall
- Key figures: Fabrizio Peralta (midfielder), Wilder Viera (midfielder)
Coached by Gustavo Morinigo, who was also in charge at India 2017, La Albirrojita had to overcome the defensive problems that plagued them in their opening three group-phase fixtures to progress to the hexagonal final.
And though they struggled to play free-flowing, expansive football in Peru, they showed the courage, solidarity and mental strength that has come to exemplify Paraguayan football.
All told, they picked up 48 per cent of the points available, enough for them to secure third place.
- Will be taking part in their fifth World Cup
- Key figures: Johan Mina (forward), John Mercado (midfielder)
Ecuador’s qualification bordered on the miraculous, requiring as it did four goals in the last 33 minutes of their final game. That achievement owed much to their never-say-die attitude and the finishing skills of tournament top scorer Johan Mina (six goals).
That high-scoring victory over Argentina summed up the rollercoaster ride Javier Rodriguez’s side endured in Peru, where explosive attacking play went hand in hand with the defensive frailties that made them the most scored-against team (13) at the tournament.
Alongside Argentina, they are the only other South American side who will compete at both the FIFA U-20 and U-17 World Cups this year.