(MENAFN - The Peninsula) FIFA.com
The stage is set for the start of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. The European country is hosting a FIFA tournament for the very first time and it is sure to be quite an occasion, given the competition's reputation for nurturing stars of the future.
Hosts Poland are due to meet Colombia in the opening match of the tournament at the Stadion Widzewa in Łódź, with the teams featuring in Group A alongside Tahiti and Senegal.
Mexico, Italy, Japan and Ecuador will contest Group B, while Honduras, New Zealand, Uruguay and Norway feature in Group C.
Qatar will hope to see emerging talent as they prepare to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the nation set to face Nigeria, Ukraine and the United States in Group D.
Panama, Mali, France and Saudi Arabia meet in Group E, with record six-time winners Argentina, Portugal, South Korea and South Africa in Group F.
The tournament's reigning champions are England, who lifted the trophy for the first time at Korea Republic 2017, courtesy of a narrow 1-0 win over a combative Venezuela side that never gave up.
The holders failed to claim one of the five qualification berths on offer at the 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, however, which means that they will be handing the trophy over to a new owner come 15 June.
Portugal head into the tournament as European champions and pose a significant goal threat thanks to a potent attack and supporting cast. Argentina, the most successful side in the competition's history with six titles, will be hoping to make the most of the absence of five-time winners Brazil for the second time running and add another trophy to their collection.
Third on two previous occasions, tournament regulars Mali are aiming to go two steps further and top the podium at last, while France will be looking to keep the good times rolling in French football and claim another piece of silverware.
Mexico will rely on their young stars to maintain their status as youth heavyweights, with the likes of Diego Lainez and Jose Juan Macias already making their way in the professional game.
The Mexicans have been drawn in the same group as Ecuador, who won the South American title with a fine blend of pace and lethal finishing.
Though there are no newcomers at this year's tournament, there are several teams capable of upsetting the odds. Among them are Panama, who have never advanced beyond the group phase but boast a group of players who are starting to gain experience abroad. Italy, despite their inconsistent appearance record in the competition, possess the character and defensive strength Gli Azzurri have always been noted for. The two top teams in each group will advance to the knock-out stage, along with the four best third placed teams.
Group matches will run until May 31, with the knock-out stage due to take place from June 2 to the final on June 15.