U-17 World Cup: Niger has maximum players born on cut-off date
Kolkata: While Niger have the highest number of players born on the cut-off date (January 1, 2000) for the FIFA U-17 World Cup starting October 6, Guinea boasts of the youngest player representing them in the tournament.
From defender Ismael Issaka who plays for Niger club ASCBK to midfielder Habibou Sofiane who plies his trade for home outfit AS Renaissance, the African side has in its ranks as many as five players born on January 1, 2000 which is the age cap to be part of the U-17 meet.
The other three players are midfielder Yacouba Aboubacar who plays for JS Tahoua, defender Rachid Soumana who dons the jersey of Tudu Mighty Jets FC in Ghana and striker Ibrahim Boubacar who turns out for Soniantcha FC.
Niger are one of three teams making their tournament debut this year, together with hosts India and New Caledonia.
They are the 20th African side to take part in the U-17 World Cup, making the Confederation of African Football (CAF) the second-most represented confederation in the competition, behind UEFA which has fielded 22 sides.
Together with Mali, Niger were the last side to qualify for the finals, beating Tanzania 1-0 on May 21 in the first round of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, where they eventually finished fourth.
Besides the five Niger footballers, Costa Rican midfielder Andres Hernandez, who represents Deportivo Saprissa, was born on the same date alongwith German forward Nicolas Kuehn, who plays for RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga.
Midfielder Abbas Ali (Al Hussein SC) of Iraq and Korea DPR defender Cha Kwang (Pyongyang International Footba) also fall in the same bracket.
Turkey's defender Sahan Akyuz, whose club is I'd Altinordu FK, completes the list.
Coming to the youngest player in the tournament, defender Guinea's Issiaga Camara was born on December 20, 2002.
In fact, Guinea has two more rookies with forward Fandje Toure born on November 1, 2002 and goalkeeper Ibrahima Sylla born on December 7, 2002.
Guinea are one of the six sides in India that participated in the inaugural edition in 1985 in China, the others being Brazil, Germany, Mexico, USA and Costa Rica.
Guinea eventually placed fourth, their best showing in their four previous campaigns.