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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 17:03 GMT
Ivorians complete African quartet
By Mark Gleeson
BBC Sport, Al-Ain

The World Youth Championship trophy
No African side has won the trophy

A tired-looking set of Ivory Coast players has arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), completing the quota of African sides for the World Youth Championship.

The Ivorian squad had spent the last seven days in Egypt preparing for the under-20 tournament.

But they arrived in Al-Ain without many key players, as a result of the on-going squabble between the Asec Abidjan academy and the Belgian club Beveren.

The Ivorians, who were runners-up at the African championship earlier this year, do not play until Saturday, when they meet Mexico in their first game in Group E.

This may leave them with just enough time to acclimatise to the conditions in the desert town.

Africa's campaign at the tournament begins on Friday, when Burkina Faso and Mali play their respective opening matches.

Both look to be rudimentary assignments, on paper at least, with the Burkinabes up against Panama, while Mali take on Uzbekistan.

Burkina Faso have several members of the under-17 side that won the bronze medal at the World Championship in Trinidad and Tobago two years ago.

They also have one national team player in midfielder Madi Panandetigueri of French club Bordeaux, who also played at the African Nations Cup finals in Mali.

Mali's coach Mamadou Coulibaly has expressed confidence that his side can come through a tough group which includes former champions Argentina and Spain.

Half of the 20-man Malian squad hails from clubs in Europe but the biggest contingent of foreign-based players for an African side belongs to the Ivorians, who have 12.

This includes Antonin Koutouan, who played in last year's African Champions League semi-finals with ASEC Abidjan and is now at French club Lorient.

Egypt, the reigning African champions, begin their campaign against Colombia on Saturday.

The Egyptian squad includes three players from Ismaili, who are due to play in the African Champions League final against Enyimba of Nigeria.

Hosni Abdrado, Ahmed Said and Ahmed Fathi have passed a chance to win a Champions League medal to play for the under-20 side in a group that also includes England and Japan.


SEE ALSO
Egypt claim third youth crown
17 Jan 03  |  Africa
Tough test for Africa
12 Jan 03  |  Africa
Mido to miss UAE trip
19 Nov 03  |  African



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