Monday 06 February 2017, 06:31

South American quartet bound for Korea Republic

Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina are the four sides who will represent South America at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017, which kicks off in May.

La Celeste took the first of four tickets on offer at the South American U-20 Championship in Ecuador after securing four wins out of five in the final stage of the tournament, eventually running out winners of the continental campaign.

Having topped their first-round group, Fabian Coito’s side swept past old rivals Argentina 3-0, before a last-minute victory over Brazil and a 3-0 win over Colombia confirmed their place, topping it off with a 2-1 win over the hosts on the final day. Korea Republic will be Uruguay's 14th trip to the finals - they are currently on a run of six straight appearances - with two runners-up finishes to their name in 1997 and 2013.

The final three places were all snapped up on a dramatic final day of action. Argentina were moments from going out of contention on the penultimate matchday, only for joint top scorer Lautaro Martinez to snatch a 94th-minute equaliser against Brazil to keep their hopes faintly alive. It was the same man who put them firmly in the driving seat, seeing off Venezuela 2-0, and when Brazil failed to earn more than a goalless draw with Colombia, La Albiceleste's revival was complete to reach a 15th finals.

Despite that defeat, Venezuela were guaranteed only their second-ever visit to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, thanks to Argentina having failed to overhaul their goal difference lead. Wins over Uruguay and Colombia in the final stage set them on their way to Korea Republic, with their last appearance at the global finals seeing them reach the round of 16 in 2009.

Ecuador too reached that stage at their last appearance - back in in 2011 - and will be visiting the tournament for a third time, having made their debut at Argentina 2001. Defeat to Uruguay wasn't enough to dislodge them from second in the final standings, having seen 3-0 victories over Argentina and Colombia put them in good stead for a ticket to the Asian peninsula in just over three months' time.

They join the 12 teams from Asia, Europe and Oceania to have already booked their place in Korea Republic. The four teams from each of North, Central America and the Caribbean zone and Africa are set to be fought for during February and March, with the draw for the U-20 World Cup set to take place on 15 March.