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U-20 World Cup, 'Turkey's first FIFA competition starts'

On Friday, the world will see Turkey's first-ever FIFA competition kick off with two matches each in İstanbul and Kayseri. In İstanbul, France will play Ghana, after which the US will play Spain in Group A. Kayseri will see Cuba face off with South Korea and Nigeria with Portugal in the Group B matches. Host nation Turkey is situated in Group C along with Colombia, El Salvador and Australia and will be playing in Trabzon. A total of 24 youth teams from around the globe will take part in the competition from June 21 to July 13. Group D consists of Mexico, Greece, Paraguay and Mali. Group E features Chile, Egypt, England and Iraq, while Group F has New Zealand, Uzbekistan, Uruguay and Croatia. Turkey has chosen seven venues across the country for the tournament. Galatasaray's Türk Telekom Arena in İstanbul, Bursa's Atatürk Stadium, Antalya's Akdeniz University Stadium, Trabzon's Hüseyin Avni Aker Stadium, Gaziantep's Kamil Ocak Stadium, Kayseri's Kadir Has Stadium and Rize's Yeni Şehir Stadium will host the U-20 World Cup matches. Turkish Football Federation (TFF) General Secretary Emre Alkin noted at a press conference that the world would soon witness “the ascent of new stars like Messi, Ronaldo and Figo.” He added that “these seven stadiums will have a heritage of international standards after the tournament is over.”

Home team

The 21-player squad list for the host team, coached by Feyyaz Uçar, was released on June 14.

Turkey's highest-profile player is midfielder Salih Uçan, who plays for football giant Fenerbahçe. Uçan has scored goals even in UEFA Europa League matches, in spite of his youth and lack of experience. Many consider him more suited for Turkey's A-team than youth squads. He will have a chance to prove his worth in the U-20.

He is joined by fellow Fener defender Hakan Çinemre. Rival team Galatasaray contributes defender Sadık Çiftpınar and keeper Muhammed Alperen Uysal.

Goalkeeper Onurcan Piri of Giresunspor and midfielder Enver Cenk Şahin of İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor are the youngest on the Turkish team at 18 years old. Everyone else is 19 or 20.

Players from foreign teams include Bundesliga keeper Aykut Özer from Eintracht Frankfurt, midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu from Karlsruher and forward Sinan Bakış from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Midfielder Alpaslan Öztürk joins the Turks from Belgium's Beerschot, while defender Fatih Turan hails from Dutch side Fortuna Sittard and midfielder Kerim Frei from English Premier League's Fulham.

The roster is rounded out by players from clubs from across Turkey in various tiers of the domestic league. The defenders are İlkay Durmuş, Ahmet Yılmaz Çalık and Ethem Ercan Pülgir. Midfielders come in the form of Taşkın Çalış, Okay Yokuşlu and Cumali Bişi. The forwards are Artun Akçakın and İbrahim Yılmaz.

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