2017 FIFA U-17 WC 3rd-place: Win or lose, Mali will keep Africa's overall dominance (News Analysis by Vincent Obi, PANA Editor)

Kolkata, India (PANA) - Although Africa will not be in the race for the winners' or runners-up title at the ongoing 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India, Mali will step out on Saturday, against Brazil, either ending their campaign with a third-place win or finishing fourth but most importantly, keeping Africa's clear dominance of this tournament.

Brazil are three-time winners (in 1997, 1999 and 2003), two-time runners up (in 1995 and 2005), and finished third (in 1985) and fourth in 2011, for a total of 6 medals.

Mali have just one medal, when they finished as runners-up in 2015.

However, one thing is clear - that the African Champions will maintain the "status quo" whether they win or lose against the Brazilians.

A look at the table of 'Performances by continental zones', shows that Africa continues to dominate the rest of the world in the history of this tournament since Nigeria won the inaugural competition in 1985, when it was called the FIFA Under-16 World Championship.

With 7 tournament wins (5 for Nigeria, 2 for Ghana) and 6 times as runner-up, Africa is the most successful continental zone.

The 1993 final, at that time re-christened the "FIFA Under-17 World Championship", was contested by two African teams - Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 in Japan. That final was contested by two teams from the same confederation. The African teams repeated the 1993 final with Mali replacing Ghana (disqualified for age violation) in 2015 when Nigeria and Mali made it to the last two teams standing and Nigeria got their fifth win.

At that time, the tournament had assumed the title "FIFA Under-17 World Cup" up till date.

When Nigeria won the inaugural championship in China in 1985, Guinea placed fourth; Nigeria were  runners-up two years later with Cote d'Ivoire in third place and Ghana won in 1991 and 1995 and were runners-up in 1993 and 1997, ending their 1999 campaign in third place.

In 2001, Nigeria were runners-up and Burkina Faso finished third. Six years later, Nigeria returned to the podium as Ghana ended in fourth place. Nigeria hosted in 2009 but were beaten 1-0 in the finals by Switzerland.

Nigeria won two more times (2013 and 2015), edging Mali into second place when Chile hosted.

South America has 3 tournament wins and has been runner-up three times. Additionally, Argentina have finished in third place on 3 occasions, Chile has done so on one occasion and Colombia finished in fourth place twice, but neither of the latter two have ever appeared in the final.

Europe has 3 tournament wins (1 each for France, USSR and Switzerland) and has been runner-up 5 times. Spain has been runner-up on 3 occasions. Additionally, Portugal and Netherlands have won third-place medals in 1989 and 2005 respectively.

The CONCACAF zone has 2 tournament wins (for Mexico in 2005 and 2011), this confederation has reached the final three times (with Mexico).

Asia has 1 tournament win (for Saudi Arabia in 1989), the only time that a team from this confederation reached the final and the only time an Asian team won a FIFA tournament in male category. (Australia was runner-up in 1999 but at that time was in the Oceania Football Confederation).

Oceania has no tournament win and 1 occasion as runner-up (for Australia in 1999). Australia has since moved to the Asian confederation.

This tournament is peculiar in that the majority of titles have gone to teams from outside the strongest regional confederations (CONMEBOL and UEFA). Of the fifteen editions held so far, nine (60 percent of the total) have been won by teams from North and Central America, Africa and Asia.
-0- PANA VAO/AR 28Oct2017

28 october 2017 06:41:54

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