U-20 WWC: Updated Thoughts on the Possible Draw Procedures

[Note #2 (4-June-2012): Here is the actual draw results for this year’s U-20 WWC. Germany was not seeded as one of the top three teams. Instead North Korea was placed into the first pot, along with host Japan, Brazil, and the USA.]

[Note: This is an update for an earlier post on the U-20 WWC draw procedure.]

While searching for information on the draw for the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which will take place on Monday, June 4th, I eventually found my way to the Wikipedia page for the 2010 tournament, which had the four pots listed and a link to video of the 2010 draw (tv.dfb.de, skip to the -23:30 mark), which confirmed that the pot listing is accurate. The draw procedure for 2010 differs significantly from the typical draw procedures for the senior women’s tournament. In fact, it is much more similar to the procedures used on the men’s side.

Although FIFA may go with a procedure similar to the outlined in the earlier post, it is much more likely that they will go with something similar to the procedure used in 2010. (In other words, discount the earlier post.)

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The Pots in 2010

The slot allocation in 2010 was AFC (Asia), 3; CAF (Africa), 2; CONCACAF, 3; CONMEBOL, 2; Oceania, 1; UEFA, 5 (including host Germany).

In 2010 the four pots were populated as following:

  • Pot #1: Germany (host), Brazil, Japan, USA
  • Pot #2: Costa Rica, Mexico, North Korea, South Korea
  • Pot #3: Colombia, New Zealand, Ghana, Nigeria
  • Pot #4: England, France, Sweden, Switzerland

Only Germany was slotted into a specific group, Group A and given a specific position, A1. All the other seeds in the first pots were placed into groups based on the order that they were picked out of the pot, with the second team going to Group B, the third into Group C, and the remaining team into Group D.

* * *

Applying the 2010 Procedures To This Year’s Draw

The slot allocation for 2012 is AFC (Asia), 4 (including host Japan); CAF (Africa), 2; CONCACAF, 3; CONMEBOL, 2; Oceania, 1; UEFA, 4.

The qualified teams:

Pot #1 will contain the four seeded teams, presumably host Japan (also AFC Champions), Brazil (CONMEBOL Champions), Germany (UEFA Champions), and the United States (CONCACAF Champions).

The remaining twelve teams, grouped by confederation, are:

  • AFC (3): North Korea, China, South Korea
  • CAF (2):  Nigeria, Ghana
  • CONMEBOL (1): Argentina
  • CONCACAF (2): Canada, Mexico
  • Oceania (1) : New Zealand
  • UEFA (3): Norway, Italy, Switzerland

These remaining teams can be divided into the three remaining pots without splitting up any of the confederations. The teams left from CONCACAF and CAF can fill up one pot, while the two confederations with three teams remaining, the AFC and UEFA, can each be matched up with a single-team confederation, CONMEBOL and Oceania. The more probable alignment is that the Oceania team, New Zealand, will be placed into the pot with the Asian teams, which leaves Argentina to be put into the European pot.

So, with a caveat that the order of the last three pots could be changed, the four pots would likely be:

  • Pot #1: Japan (host), Brazil, Germany, United States
  • Pot #2: North Korea, China, South Korea, New Zealand
  • Pot #3: Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Mexico
  • Pot #4: Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina

A key problem with the above pots is that the geographical diversity requirement would force New Zealand to be placed into Group A with host Japan, while Argentina would have to be in whichever group Germany is selected into. Similarly, the USA would be guaranteed to face either Ghana or Nigeria.  Compare this to the earlier post, which proposes a more elegant set of pots that requires no special rules regarding geographic diversity.

One advantage of going with the above pots is that the most likely semifinal showdowns will be random as the four seeded teams, outside of the hosts, are not placed into specific groups. However, in the other proposed procedure, that could be dealt with by having an additional pot for the group placement, with four balls, each with “A,”  “B,” “C,” or “D,” inside.  The “A” ball would be in a different color and selected first for the host, Japan.

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What the Above Procedure Means for the United States

If the above pots are used, then the USA is guaranteed an Asian team, a European team, and an African team.

  • From Pot #2: North Korea, China, South Korea, New Zealand
  • From Pot #3: Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Mexico
  • From Pot #4: Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina

Meanwhile, the USA will not have the possibility of facing two of the least difficult teams, New Zealand (whom the USA defeated 5:0 in May) and Argentina.

For more on the USA’s possible opponents, see the earlier post on the U-20 WWC draw.

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