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FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Group scenarios ahead of final round, and what each team needs to do to qualify

The group stage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup will enter its final round of matches on Thursday, with 10 spots in the knock-out stages still up for grabs. Only six teams — Unites States of America, Paraguay, Iran, Brazil, France and England — have booked a place in the Round-of-16 stage, all six having a 100 percent win record.

They will be joined by the six second-placed finishers, and also the four best third-placed finishers. The four best third-place finishers clause means none of the 24 teams are definitively out of the reckoning; every team has a mathematical possibility of qualification. Even India, who find themselves bottom of Group A without a point, can be in the Round-of-16 if they can record their first ever World Cup win and other results go their way.

As last-chance saloon beckons, the teams scrapping to reach the Round-of-16 would not only have to bring their A-game to the table, but also keep the calculators handy. To make things simpler for the average fan, here's an explainer of the overall qualification criteria and scenarios for each group:

The rankings of teams in each group are determined as:

1. Points obtained in all group matches
2. Goal difference in all group matches
3. Number of goals scored in all group matches

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above criteria, their rankings are then determined as follows:

  1. Points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned
  2. Goal difference in the group matches between the teams concerned
  3. Number of goals scored in the group matches between the teams concerned
  4. Fair play points
  5. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee

The four best teams among those ranked third will be determined by the following criteria:

1. Points obtained in all group matches
2. Goal difference in all group matches
3. Number of goals scored in all group matches
4. Fair play points
5. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee

Thus, in accordance to the above criteria, here's a group-wise look at the qualification scenarios and what each team needs to do to ensure they are among the final 16:

Group A 

Group A standings after 2 round

Group A standings after two rounds

Last round matches: United States vs Colombia; India vs Ghana

United States: The US are assured of a place in the next round and their clash with Colombia will be all about ensuring they top the group. A draw will secure top spot for John Hackworth's side irrespective of the result in the other match. A defeat against Colombia will leave the door open for Ghana to join the two teams on six points, meaning it will all be down to goal difference. But with the US also boasting a healthy goal difference GD of +4, only a heavy defeat against the South Americans or a big win for Ghana will prevent the Americans from topping Group A.

Colombia: The South Americans need a win to confirm their passage to the next round, while a draw will ensure they will finish no lower than third place, thus keeping them in contention for a place in the Round of 16. A draw would most likely be enough to go through as one of the better third-place teams, but it will mean Colombia will have to wait till the last game of the group stage to learn their fate. A defeat against the group leaders would put their campaign in jeopardy. Especially if Ghana also manages to defeat India. A win or draw for Ghana would confirm a third-place finish for the South Americans, but a win for India would bring it all down to goal difference between the three teams.

Ghana: The Africans head into the final match against India knowing a win would be enough to book a place in the last-16, either as group winners, runner-up or as a higher-ranked third-place team. Their situation is similar to Colombia where a draw could eventually prove to be enough, but a loss could increase chances of an early exit. However, their opponents are India, considered the weakest team in the group, so Ghana have a better chance of qualification than Colombia.

India: The hosts, making their World Cup debut, are yet to open their account. After defeats in their two matches, India have left themselves with all to do against Ghana. The Indians face a must-win situation against the Africans, and even victory may not be enough to send them through to the next stage. Luis Norton de Matos' side would need to beat Ghana by a margin of two goals to stay alive in the competition at least till the final whistle of the last game of group stages. India could confirm qualification as runner-up if they beat Ghana by a three-goal margin and Colombia lose to the US. Any other result apart from victory, would end India's campaign.

Group B

Group b standings after 2 round

Group B standings after two rounds

Last round matches: New Zealand vs Mali; Paraguay vs Turkey

Paraguay: The South Americans sealed qualification with an impressive comeback win over New Zealand in the previous match and will go into the final game looking to seal top spot in the group. A win or draw would do the job for them, but a defeat could see them slip lower down the table. It's unlikely that Paraguay will finish third in the group given their healthy goal difference.

Mali: The African champions will seal qualification with a win. A draw would also do the job thanks to their superior goal difference. A defeat could mean them having to qualify as one of the third-placed teams unless they lose heavily. So, as long as they avoid a heavy defeat against New Zealand, Mali have a good chance of qualification.

New Zealand: The Kiwis need a victory to have any chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages. A win would most likely be enough to send them through — either as group runner-up or as one of the better third-placed teams. Any other result apart from a victory would leave the Kiwis with almost no chance of qualifying.

Turkey: With a goal difference of -3, Turkey can only qualify if they beat Paraguay in the final game on Thursday. Like New Zealand, a win may do the trick, but any other result would send them packing.

Group C

Group C standings after 2 round

Group C standings after two rounds

Last round matches: Costa Rica vs Iran; Guinea vs Germany

Iran: The Asian champions floored Germany in their previous game, and are certain to qualify. In all likelihood, owing to their superior goal difference, they will do so as group winners. As long as they avoid a heavy defeat to Costa Rica in the final game, Iran will progress as Group C winners.

Germany: Germany will have to pick up the pieces from the mauling they received at the hands of Iran and get their act together. A win against Guinea will send them through, at least as runner-up, while a draw could also be enough, to at least qualify as one of the better third-placed teams. A defeat will mean they are heavily dependent on the other results going their way.

Costa Rica: They need a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive, either as runner-up, but more likely as one of the better third-placed teams. Any other result would mean they will have a very minor chance of making the cut.

Guinea: Guinea's fate is similar to Costa Rica's. They would need to beat the Germans to have any chance, with any other result severely damaging their chances of qualification.

Group D

Group D standings after 2 round

Group D standings after two rounds

Last round matches: Spain vs North Korea; Niger vs Brazil

Brazil: The South American champions have qualified after recording two wins from their opening two games. They now need a point to secure qualification as group winners. Defeat though could leave the door open for Niger and Spain to catch them in the table. Defeat against Niger, with a win for Spain against North Korea could mean Brazil will have to settle for second spot. But the 'Samba Boys' are unlikely to slip beyond the second spot even if they lose to Niger.

Spain: Thanks to their superior goal difference, a draw against North Korea could be enough for the European champions to qualify at least as a third-placed team, in case Niger upsets Brazil. A defeat would leave them in a spot of bother, but their goal difference could again work in their favour. So, Spain have to avoid a heavy defeat to ensure progression. A win would secure second spot for them.

Niger: Niger would need to upset the mighty Brazil to harbour hopes of qualification. They would need to get something out of their final match, since their inferior goal difference could prove to be their undoing in a scrap among third-placed teams. A win would guarantee them a place in the next round.

North Korea: The Asians find themselves with a mountain to climb in the final game. They would need to beat Spain to have any say in qualification matters. They would need a big win over the European champions to have a realistic chance of making the cut for the last-16. Any other result apart from a win would spell the end of their campaign.

Group E

Group D standings after 2 round

Group E standings after two rounds

Last round matches: France vs Honduras; Japan vs New Caledonia

France: Les Blues are through to the next round after maintaining a hundred percent record in the group so far. Their goal difference of +7 means that even defeat against Honduras may keep them on top spot, if Japan fail to do what other teams in the group have so efficiently done so far — smash a handful of goals past New Caledonia. So, France would be looking for at least a draw against Honduras to secure their passage to the next round as group winners.

Japan: A point would secure qualification for Japan thanks to their healthy goal difference, but winning the game against New Caledonia shouldn't be a major problem for Japan who could seal second spot with three points. Even in the case of an unlikely defeat, Japan would progress thanks to their superior goal difference, either as runners-up if France beat Honduras, or as a better third-place team if Honduras nick a point or beat France.

Honduras: They did well to repair the damage of a 6-1 defeat to Japan with a 5-0 win over New Caledonia. As things stand, Honduras is the best third-placed team in the tournament. But they're facing a tough last-round match against France, and it would be a big challenge to maintain this position. A win would help them qualify, but even a draw could be enough considering their goal difference.

New Caledonia: Although the Oceanian side remains in contention on paper, there is virtually no chance of them making the next round if their performances in the first two matches are anything to go by. Even a win over Japan in the final game may not be enough thanks to a appalling goal difference of -11 as things stand.

Group F

Group F

Group F standings after two rounds

Last round matches: England vs Iraq; Mexico vs Chile

England: The 'Young Lions' need a point to secure top-place finish from Group F. A defeat to Iraq in the final game would mean they would have to surrender top spot to the Asians.

Iraq: With four points on the board, Iraq have all but qualified for the Round-of-16, as they would at least be among the better third-placed teams even if they lose to England in the final match. A draw would send them through as runners-up irrespective of the other result. A victory would help them leapfrog England and enter knock-out stages as group winners.

Mexico: Mexico need a win against Chile to advance to the latter stages of the competition. A draw or a defeat would leave them with a very minor chance of making the cut.

Chile: The runners-up of the South American U-17 championships find themselves in a tight spot. Only a win would do it for them to have any chance of progression. But with a goal difference of -7, Chile would need a big win over Mexico in the final game, and looking at their current form, it's looking unlikely.


Published Date: Oct 12, 2017 14:17 PM | Updated Date: Oct 12, 2017 14:17 PM

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