Argentina the best U20 world champions

The Regional U20 championship had started since 1954 and Argentina have won five championship titles. they were one of the few early participants in the junior world cup created by FIFA in the late seventies. They failed woefully during their first attempt at the world cup and did not qualify for the first tournament hosted by Tunisia and won by USSR losing at the early stages in the CONMEBOL Tournament, they qualified for the second edition in Japan and won in style coached by Luis Menotti with the brilliance and ingenuity of Maradona and the prolific Ramon Dias. the previous year, Maradona was dropped from participating at the senior world cup which they hosted and won for the first time, their manager was also Menotti.
Most people will sulk and decline due to the disappointment of the rejection but Maradona went on to become one of football’s grestest players.
Argentina were like other participating teams that make up the numbers featuring in competitions with little or no impact when compared to the greatness they will impact in this tournament, in Australia in 1981 as defending champion they fell at the first hurdle. In mexico 1983 they were losing finalist to Brazil. they failed to qualify for both the 1985 and 1987 editions, in 1989 in Saudi Arabia they fell again to Brazil their eternal rivals in the second round and in 1991 in Portugal, indiscipline on the pitch resulted in a ban for two years which led to their non participation in 1993. they had learnt how to turn humiliation into stepping stones, they reorganised the coaching personnel rebranded their structure and launched into a sustained period of success. Jose Pekerkerman a man with no experience matching the demands of the job was given the responsibility of managing both the U17 and U20 teams.


The master:Pekerman

The Argentines won the tournament back to back in 1995 and 1997, replicating Brazil’s feat (1983 and 1985 )and Portugal (1989 and 1991) from a disqualification in 1991 when they lost to the host and defending champion to winning the trophy for keeps exacting revenge on the Brazilians in the finals from the loss in 1983.producing notably Pablo Sorin in Qatar who went on to play for the senior team, he was their captain in the 2006 world cup in Germany.
They became the joint most successful team with 3 trophies just like Brazil ,interestingly they beat their neighbours in the second all south American finals while in 1997, with players such as Riquelme,leonardo Franco, Fabián Cubero, Walter Samuel, Placente, Cambiasso and Pablo Aimar. The La albiceleste defended the championship by winning the third South American finals this time beating Uruguay in Malaysia and also, receiving the fair play trophy the redemption was indeed complete. As defending champion in Nigeria 1999 they lost in the second round to Mexico.


The outstanding Saviola credit sportsmob

They pulled ahead of Brazil by winning their fourth trophy in 2001 which they hosted producing players Saviola, Ponzio, Burdisso, Julio Arca, Romagnoli,  D’Alessandro,Maxi Rodríguez and Rosales. Pekerkerman won his third title bettering the record of Carlos Quireoz who had won two. it was the first time an Argentine won both the tournament’s highest goal scorer and the golden ball. Javier Saviola scored eleven goals. they also won the fair play award for the second time.

He went on to play for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. He won Olympic gold in 2004.


Messi oñ top of the world credit Barcelona

They won their fifth and sixth trophies in succession in 2005-2007 after failing in 2003 finishing fourth. as the Barca’ s prodigy Lionel Messi helped them to win in Holland in 2005 despite losing in the group stage by a goal to nil to the United States, it was the first time they lost in the first match of the first round in a title winning campaign. Messi like Saviola won both the golden ball and boot scoring twice on penalties in the finals in an evenly contested match against Nigeria. They had other players in Garay,Barroso,  Gago, Lucas Biglia, Zabaleta,Cardozo and Aguero. They were coached by Francisco Ferraro

Aguero won titles in 2005 and 2007

Aguero still eligible for the next edition became their talisman and became the third Argentine to scoop both golden ball and boot. Argentina’s first beaten finalist was the Soviet Union, followed by South American rivals Brazil and Uruguay, their fourth and fifth were Africans, Ghana and Nigeria and their sixth was the Czech, two opponents each from the best continent at that level. They were coaced by Hugo Totalli, Other players in this record extending sixth title victory were Sergio Romero, Banega, Moralez and Ángel Di Maria, Piatti and Zarate. In Di Maria Argentina produced one of their finest stars in recent times he is renowned for scoring important goals. He scored the winner in the 2008 Olympic finals and helping them retain their title, he also scored the winner in the copa America win against Brazil in 2021 and also in the finalissima Cup win against Italy in 2022. At club level he won the champions league helping Real Madrid capture la decima he scored in the finals.

They failed to qualify to defend their title in 2009. Brazil made it five titles in 2011 in Colombia but Argentina is still the all time leader with six titles.

Its been more than thirteen years without a title but the Argentina federation know what they need to do to bring back the glory days.

lessons from this football heritage

Disappointments can always be transformed into appointment with success either as an individual or a collective.

Maradona from being rejected from the senior world cup winning team to becoming an icon in 1979

From rejection(Maradona), punishment as a result of indiscipline(Pochettino was part of the team that had disciplinary issues but he advanced his career and played at the senior world cup in 2002 and he is currently one of the best coaches in the world, manager at Chelsea), poor results.(they usually return better after such results)

Risk is important to success

Their appointment of Pekerkerman was a phenomenon

No matter the lost time, the future can also be bright

From a title in thirteen years to having five in another thirteen years.

Success can be embedded into culture and also replicated

Their players may not be the most skilled or talented but in achievement they have almost no rivals.

Leave a Comment