It’s been a busy month for FIFA championship football tournaments. Japan lifted its first FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy on July 17, while one week earlier, on July 10, Mexico’s boys team, playing on home soil, won its second FIFA U-17 world title. And on July 29, the 24-team FIFA U-20 World Cup kicks off in Colombia.
The Colombians are justifiably proud of their coffee, so it’s fitting that a steaming cup of coffee is part of the official logo for the tournament. As I sip my cup of 100% Colombian and ponder the chances of the teams in this latest FIFA event, you have to start with South American powerhouses Argentina and Brazil. The FIFA U-20 tournament has been held 17 times previously, and Argentina (6 titles) and Brazil (4 titles) have combined to win 10 of the championships. Portugal, with back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1991, is the only other team in the field in Colombia with two or more championships.
Africa captured its first FIFA U-20 world title at the last competition in Egypt in 2009. But the “Black Satellites” of Ghana, who beat Brazil in a penalty kick shootout in the final in Cairo two years ago, did not qualify for Colombia 2011. The African flag this time around is being flown by Cameroon, Egypt, Mali and Nigeria – a two-time FIFA U-20 runner-up.
No matter which team wins the trophy on August 20 in Bogota, I will toast them with my trusty cup of 100% Colombian.