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Brazil, Argentina 'underdogs' as South America U20 Championships return

The serious stuff is about to start in one of the world's greatest showcases of emerging footballing talent. The second, decisive stage of the South American Under-20 Championships will soon be underway in Chile. Four nations have fallen by the wayside, while six remain to delight the army of European scouts and compete for the continent's four places in this year's World Under-20 Cup.

The second phase starts on Tuesday and comes to a conclusion 12 days later with a final round featuring the clash...

Who might emerge -- as Messi once did -- at South America Under-20 Championships?

In 2005, South America's under-20 tournament proved a springboard for Lionel Messi to U20 Wrld Cup and global stardom.

Venezuela are the only South American nation never to have made it to a World Cup. But they are convinced that their time will come in 2022 -- and their optimism is based on much more than mere faith. Two years ago they went to the final of the Under-20 World Cup, where they missed a penalty before losing 1-0 to England.

In Venezuela, they believe this generation will carry them all the way to Qatar -- an illustration of the importance that South America attaches to its under-20 teams.

There is...

 By Tim Vickery

Venezuela's club football on the verge of historic breakthrough

Australia's new coach Bert Van Marwijk was quick out of the blocks. A week ahead of Monday's deadline he named his provisional 32-man squad for the World Cup -- to be whittled down to 23 by the time the competition kicks off.

The members of his squad are strewn across Europe and Asia, with very few based at home. Just five players make their living in the country's A-League, the competition launched in 2005-06.

The then eight-team A-League got underway just as Australia ensured qualification for...

 By Tim Vickery

Venezuela, Uruguay show Chile the way to success through U-20 progression

Venezuela have shown success in blooding young players.

When Venezuela take on Uruguay in Thursday's World Cup qualifier, the importance of Under-20 football should be very clear.

The Venezuelans have no chance of making it to Russia. They are already building for the long term, hoping to make their senior World Cup debut in Qatar 2022. And they hope they have unearthed the generation that will get them there -- the squad that reached the final of this year's U-20 World Cup.

Nine members of that group have been called up for the upcoming matches against...

 By Tim Vickery

Venezuela beaten in U20 World Cup, but bar is set high for younger generation

England have won their first major trophy since 1966, after Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Venezuela.

England began their Under-20 World Cup campaign with a win over Argentina and rounded it off with another victory over South American opposition, edging 1-0 past Venezuela in the final.

England had resolved their knockout matches inside the 90 minutes. Venezuela, meanwhile, needed extra time in all three rounds -- and with the semifinal played just three days before the final, their recovery time had been worryingly short. It proved an important factor in the outcome.

In the first half the Venezuelan...

 By Tim Vickery

Uruguay, Venezuela to face off in all-South American U20 World Cup semi

Brazil failed even to qualify, Argentina got over the line by a miracle and Ecuador were clearly boosted by home advantage, so no one who followed the South American Under-20 Championships since the start of the year will be surprised that the continent's best two teams in the current World Cup in South Korea have been Uruguay and Venezuela. This Thursday, they meet in an all-South American semifinal.

Uruguay have been consistent performers at this level in the last decade. Four years ago, they...