The event, which has jettisoned some of the legendary names of world football such as Luis Figo, Ronaldinho or Cesc Fabregas in recent years, will be held from October 17 to November 8 across the country. All Group A matches will be played in Abu Dhabi.
In Group B, Uruguay will play New Zealand, African champions Ivory Coast and Italy in Ras Al Khaimah. Group C pitched Croatia, Morocco, Panama and Asian champions Uzbekistan together in Fujairah while Group D sees Tunisia, Venezuela, European champions Russia and Japan battling it out in Sharjah. Group E sees Canada play Austria, South American champions Argentina and Iran play in Dubai, while Group F involves Central American champions Mexico, Nigeria, Iraq and Sweden in Al Ain.
UAE senior team coach Mahdi Ali, who assisted in the draw with 2013 Gulf Cup Player of the Tournament Omar Abdul Rahman and Italia 90 UAE goalkeeper Mohsi Mosabah, said the UAE U17 side shouldn’t be scared of Brazil.
Ali told Gulf News: “I think it’s a good opportunity for the UAE to play with Brazil and to gain this experience. Sometimes when you have a strong team in the same group, it is good for the group.
Up against big teams
“Many people, when we played in the London 2012 Olympics and were drawn with Uruguay, Senegal and Great Britain, were afraid but I was very happy to play against such big teams to show the whole world that we have a good team and good players who love playing football and I hope that also happens in this competition.”
Brazil U17 national team spokesman Gustavo Pires said: “We think it’s a hard group, it’s always hard to play against the local team. We are sure they are going to have a big crowd supporting them and we’ve already talked to people from Canada who have informed us that Honduras are a very good team as well, so we will have a hard job.
“Also Slovakia, we don’t know much about them but we know they left a lot of very good teams behind in the European qualifying stage so they must deserve to be here. We will have a tough task if we are expected to qualify to the next stage.”
As hosts, the UAE were guaranteed to avoid the five continental champions: Argentina, Uzbekistan, Ivory Coast, Mexico and Russia. The Whites also knew they would sidestep regional rivals from the Asian and Pacific draw: Iran, Iraq, Japan and New Zealand. But the threat of being drawn with football powerhouses Brazil and Nigeria who have won this 28-year-old competition three times apiece had always lurked.