When I wrote the first two editions of Under 21s at the World Cup, for Groups A, B, C and D, there was a possibility that some of the players mentioned may not actually make it to South Africa. The reason for that is the coaching staff had until June 1 to submit their final 23-man squad after announcing a provisional squad of 30. That date has now passed, so lets look and see which youngsters were unfortunate enough to be cut.
Firstly, Theo Walcott. How can we not start with probably the most high profile, amongst young players anyway, omission from the World Cup? I really did expect the winger to travel to South Africa as he could have really aided England's cause with his explosive pace and knack for finding a goal or two as evidenced by his hat trick against Croatia in qualifying, yet I can understand why the youngster has been dropped. He had a really indifferent season at Arsenal where he struggled to hold down a starting spot and also suffered from a few injuries.
When Walcott did get a start, he couldn't produce consistent form and looking back it the winger, who figured prominently in England's recent friendlies, probably needed to produce a string of brilliant performances to get picked which he just didn't manage. Shaun Wright-Phillips is the man that's benefited from Walcott's omission as the Man City winger was picked instead of the youngster.
Mexico selected youngsters Giovanni Dos Santos and Carlos Vela in their final squad, as expected, but their inclusion wasn't without drama. Giovanni has since voiced a protest over the omission of his brother Jonathan from the squad. The pair's father, Zizinho, has said that "We don't know if he (Giovanni) will play or not," while there is concern that both players will quit international football for good with Zizinho once again saying, "Jonathan told me that he is going to quit the Mexican team." It's a rather intense reaction to the situation and Mexican fans will hoping that the situation threatened does not eventuate.
Uruguay and Argentina have included promising youngsters Nicolas Lodeiro and Javier Pastore in their final 23-man squads. The two talented midfielders could launch their international careers at the tournament if they are given a chance to shine.
Fan favorite Sotiris Ninis has been included in on Greece's squad, but there are still questions over how much game time he'll see. Rehhagel hasn't shown a willingness to use the talented midfielder previously.
Not surprisingly, forward Ideye Brown and defender Terna Suswam did not make Nigeria's final cut. Brown hadn't played for the national team while Suswam only made his debut against Saudi Arabia. It's widely expected that their time will come at future tournaments. Midfielder Haruna Lukman and defender Dele Adeleye did make the cut, which was widely expected. Lukman's role in the side is growing, especially with John Obi Mikel's injury problems, while Adeleye has recently worked his way into the starting line-up in midfield or at the center of defense.
To round out Groups A and B four of the five South Korean players who were in the preliminary squad have made the final 23. Three of the players were guaranteed to make it: Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Chung-Yong, and Lee Seung-Yeoul, but relatively inexperienced midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung has also made the cut. I would have expected Gu Ja-Cheol to go if they picked either of them but it was a situation where you could have almost tossed a coin to choose out of the two of them.
Algerian winger Ryad Boudeboz has made the final 23 for Algeria in a squad that had some key players ruled out through injury and others included on the hopes that will be ready in time.
As expected, Jozy Altidore was chosen in Bob Bradley's USA squad. Altidore is surprisingly the most experienced international striker the Americans are taking and a lot of expectations will be placed on his young shoulders.
Slovenian coach Matjaz Kek has done what I expected and included midfielder Rene Krhin and forward Tim Matavz. They are two of the countries rising stars and their talents could help the side steal a place in the second round.