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U.S. under-17 men

Americans learn their Group E opponents in World Cup.

SEOUL, South Korea (Thursday, May 17, 2007) -- The United States will face Belgium, Tunisia and Tajikistan in Group E of Under-17 Men's World Cup which will be played from August 18-September 9 in South Korea.

The U.S. was one of the seeded team in today's draw and will play Tajikistan August 20 and Tunisia August 23 in Changwon before heading to Cheonan to meet Belgium August 26.

"On paper, it may seem like a favorable draw for us. However, in my experience at the Under-17 World Cup, you never know really what's going to happen because at this age level things are definitely a little unpredictable," said under-17 coach John Hackworth, who will lead the U.S. into the world championships for a second time. "We know very little about Tajikistan and Tunisia, so that is going to be a huge challenge for us. We do know a little about Belgium, but we have some work to do to get prepared for all of our teams in Group E.

The 24-nation field is divided into six groups of four with the top two teams from each group and the four third-place teams with the best records advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at seven venues -- Suwon, Ulsan, Seogwipo, Goyang, Gwangyang, Cheonan and Seoul.

The U.S. qualified for the world championship by winning Group A of the CONCACAF Under-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Kingston, Jamaica earlier this month. The Americans opened with a 3-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago, then topped Canada 2-1, lost to Jamaica 3-2, and edged Costa Rica 2-1.

Tajikistan, will be competing in its first World Cup at any level, one of four teams to qualify from Asia. "Basically, (Tajikistan is) in full-time residency," Hackworth said. "They're very committed and serious about their preparation."

Tunisia, one of four qualifiers from Africa, is the only U.S. opponent with prior world championship experience, having qualified for the event in Japan in 1993, though it failed to advance through the first round.

Belgium is one of five European representatives in the World Cup.

Should the U.S. win Group E, it would face the runnerup of Group D, which includes two-time champion Nigeria, 2001 champ France, Japan and Haiti. If the Americans place second in Group E, they would face the winner of Group F, which includes two-time champion Ghana, Germany, Colombia and Trinidad & Tobago.

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