Spectacular Closing Ceremony Awaits FIFA Under-17 World Cup Final

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FIFA UAE 13Fifty matches, 20 days of nail-biting football and all nations of the World united, the 15th  tournament of the FIFA U-17 World Cup  World Cup will reach its thrilling climax this Friday as two great  teams line up for the final match.

Nigeria will take on Mexico at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, the venue where the tournament kicked off on October 17.

The crowd will be treated to a lavish closing ceremony before the players take to the pitch.

Last month’s opening ceremony, which was broadcast live on Al Jazeera TV, featured 204 artists and volunteers, 24 balloons each measuring 2.5 metres, and a fireworks display.

Special guests included Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and Jerome Valcke, Fifa’s secretary general, as well as several foreign dignitaries.

The closing ceremony promises to be equally impressive. It will begin at 7.38pm, with the final kicking off at 8pm.

“Our team has been preparing for weeks and we’re thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to partake in this milestone for both Fifa and the UAE,” said Julia Modesti, the artistic director at Circo De Bakuza (CDB) and the organiser of both ceremonies. The company is an international creative agency based in Montreal, Canada, with a sister office in Paris.

“The idea was to have a continuity between the opening and closing ceremony,” she said. “The idea in the closing is to use the themes of the pearl and the star.

“This is a theme we are pushing, as all of these players are the rising stars of football. We hope to show their ascension, rise and progress because these players can become the stars of the future.

“We try to find a theme that works universally, and then we do our best to adapt to whoever the final teams will be.

“There will be between 100 and 130 people on the field. We have professional dancers as well as the volunteers and we have been working really hard with the choreographers. It has been great working with an international team and the locals as well.

“It is a real challenge. It is part of the game and it is always fast on the creative and production side, so we have been working hard.”

Ms Modesti said the ceremony would also showcase the next host country.

“During the show at the closing we are also, importantly, representing the next country that will host the next World Cup,” she said. “It is a major part to represent Chile, in this case, who will host the tournament in 2015.”

“It is an honour and privilege to work on these very prestigious events in the UAE,” said Roshan Soomarchun, CDB’s vice president. “We are thankful to our clients, partners and Emiratis for their openness, professionalism and continued support.”

Vincent Drolet, the president and executive producer of CDB, said staging such elaborate shows presented a huge challenge.

“We only had a month to prepare, with over 200 participants and a lot of volunteers,” he said.

“But we also had help from Flash Entertainment on the logistical side and our local partner Aya Communications helped with the tender process. We also had around 25 people from our own international team.

“The biggest challenge is working with the volunteers and getting them to rehearse with us, with such short timing.

“For the closing ceremony we only know the final teams one day before the ceremony, so to represent them well is always a last-minute challenge.

“We want to represent the hosting country and the different countries. The World Cup is a competition so, obviously, the competitive factor needs to be represented as well.”

Another challenge for the organising team is ensuring that their show does not damage the pitch. The show must leave the grass pristine so as to not impede play during the all-important final.

The ceremony is sure to end with a bang, but what exactly is in store for the fans was being kept under wraps.

“You’ll just have to come along as see for yourself,” said Ms Modesti.

FIFANig
On Friday in Abu Dhabi, the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 will pit reigning champions Mexico against three-time winners Nigeria. This highly anticipated clash will be the second time that the teams have faced each other at this year’s tournament, with both having emerged from the same section.

On Friday in Abu Dhabi, the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 will pit reigning champions Mexico against three-time winners Nigeria. This highly anticipated clash will be the second time that the teams have faced each other at this year’s tournament, with both having emerged from the same section.

The schedule
Final – 8 November
Nigeria-Mexico (Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium, 20:00 local time)

The match
Group F may well have been the proverbial ‘group of death,’ but three of the four teams it contained survived until the semi-finals, and two made it all the way to the final.

Long before the tournament even kicked off, Mexico and Nigeria were already regarded as favourites to claim the silverware. But after the 6-1 humiliation suffered by El Tri in their opening match against the Golden Eaglets, the title holders’ dreams of defending their trophy appeared to have been prematurely crushed, while the Africans confirmed they would be a force to be reckoned with.

But 20 days later, the final is likely to be a completely different story.

As the Nigerians went from strength to strength, Raul Gutierrez’s men dug deep to recover mentally and concentrate on the attributes exhibited by their victorious predecessors in 2011. Judging by the two semi-finals, where Nigeria saw off Sweden 3-0 and Mexico defeated Argentina by the same scoreline, the showpiece match on Friday should be a closely contested affair.

Manu Garba’s charges have two significant statistics in their favour: they are yet to be beaten in the competition, and they boast the most prolific attack (23 goals). Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi and Musa Yahaya spearhead a side that is constantly on the move and harasses the opposition with or without the ball, posing a serious challenge for any defence.

El Tri, meanwhile, have found the net with much less frequency (11 times), but can boast a compact unit that bounced back from their initial setback to eliminate Brazil and Argentina.

The stat
24
– Third at Mexico 2011, Germany broke the record for the number of goals scored at the FIFA U-17 World Cup by finding the net no fewer than 24 times. After having surpassed their own benchmark of 20 goals, the Nigerians (23) now find themselves one strike away from equalling the Germans’ impressive haul. With two matches left to play and 164 goals already recorded, UAE 2013 looks likely to become the most prolific U-17 World Cup ever, surpassing Korea Republic 2007 (165).

The player to watch
Marco Granados (Mexico)
The Chivas Guadalajara forward is El Tri’s secret weapon. The supersub has taken part in all six of his team’s matches, but has only been on the pitch for a total of 106 minutes. He makes up for his lack of playing time with high-quality incursions and intensity – in the quarter-final against Brazil, the Mexican No10 came off the bench to provoke a dangerous free-kick which led to the opener, and in the semi-final versus Argentina, he smashed home his side’s third goal. If Granados makes a cameo appearance in the final, the Nigerian defence would do well to keep him closely shackled.

The words
“There won’t be any pressure on us against Mexico, because we’ll be physically and mentally prepared for the match. But I repeat that Mexico are a dangerous and very skilful team. We’ve witnessed their resilience since losing to us 6-1, a result which did not prevent them from reaching the final,” Nigeria coach Manu Garba.

-FIFA