Recent litigation has intriguingly affected the importance of the African Youth Championship.
In 2009, new FIFA bylaws have influenced the potency of the tournament. Binationals were always a part of the picture, but as of 2009, they were allowed to switch allegiances at any which age. Consequently, more and more African U20s are having to compete with players of African origin who represented EurAsian nations at the junior level.
In spite of the influx of talent migrating from overseas, this tournament has still produced its gems. Ghana for example have graduated the likes of Mubarak Wakaso, John Boye, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Richmond Boakye and Andre Ayew from the U20 set-up. They are but a tip of a talented iceberg the Black Starts have put out for this tournament over the years.
The eight teams have been bifurcated into two groups. The top two of either group automatically qualify for 1) the semi-finals, and 2) the U20 FIFA World Cup to be held in Turkey this summer.
The two groups will tussle in two different cities: Oran and Ain Temouchent. The sister cities are within 40km of one another and both can be mercilessly hot. In Ain Temouchent, Group A will play their matches at the Omar Ouicef stadium.
Stade Omar Oucief (Ain Temouchent)
Stade Ahmed Zabana (Oran)
MC Oran’s Stade Ahmed Zabana (named after an Algerian revolutionary from Oran) will play host to the Group B. This ground is slightly larger and it’s pitch is weathered. It should, nevertheless, prove a competent enough venue for the exciting tournament.
Nigeria are not only the current champions, they are also the most successful nation to take part in the African Youth Championship.