FIFA U-20 World Cup record
Korea Republic 2017 will be Venezuela's second U-20 World Cup after Egypt 2009, where the generation spearheaded by Salomon Rondon and Yonathan del Valle were defeated 2-1 by United Arab Emirates in the Round of 16. Before that, the tournament debutants had made waves in the group stage, eclipsing Nigeria – always dangerous opponents at youth level – to finish second behind Spain.
The road to Korea Republic
Venezuela's successful qualifying campaign was the fruit of a concerted effort launched some time ago, which paid dividends in the shape of a third-place finish at this year's South American U-20 Championship. La Vinotinto exhibited defensive discipline, attacking flair and character in abundance, not letting their heads drop despite having to wait until the six-team final stage for their first victory. They got through to that phase thanks to four draws in the first round and a late Colombia equaliser subsequently made it five games without a win, but they then proceeded to beat Ecuador and eventual champions Uruguay. Despite losses to Brazil and Argentina, their tally of seven points ultimately proved enough to seal qualification. Their two linchpins along the way were Wuilker Farinez, who pulled off a string of sensational saves and was named the competition's outstanding goalkeeper, and Yeferson Soteldo, their main attacking orchestrator.
Rafael Dudamel enjoys legendary status as Venezuela's second-most capped keeper ever, having represented his country 54 times. After beginning his coaching career in 2010, he took La Vinotinto to the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 on the strength of an historic campaign at that year's South American U-17 Championship, where they were runners-up. Besides now being at the helm of the U-20s, Dudamel also coaches Venezuela's senior national team.
20 – The months of preparation that Venezuela will have under their belts when the action kicks off in Korea Republic. Midway through 2015, the coaching staff drew up a comprehensive master plan – including a schedule featuring more than 30 international fixtures – with a view to first reaching and then peaking at the global extravaganza. Having accomplished the first step of the process in the qualifying tournament, they will be sticking to the same formula.