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Academy Analysis Group H: Which clubs produced the most players at World Cup 2018?
Simon Winter
Simon Winter
June 12, 2018
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Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.

(Feature Image Credit: By Iklanmaju1988 (i made on my own) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

In the final segment of our Academy Analysis multi-part feature, we turn our attention to Group H, where Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal go head-to-head in one of the tightest looking World Cup sections.

Below we will detail which academies and youth teams are responsible for producing each member of the respective squads in World Cup Group H.

Read the first parts of our series first using the links below:

Part1: Group A: Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Part 2: Group B: Iran, Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

Part 3: Group C: Australia, Denmark, Peru and France.

Part 4: Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.

Part 5 Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland

Part 6: Group F: Germany, Mexico, South Korea and Sweden

Part 7: Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia


Colombia World Cup

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

David Ospina – Atlético Nacional
Camilo Vargas – Deportivo Cali
José Fernando Cuadrado – Millonarios

Cristián Zapata – Deportivo Cali
Óscar Murillo – Boca Juniors
Santiago Arias – La Equidad
Yerry Mina – Deportivo Pasto
Johan Mojica – Academia
Farid Díaz – Atlético Bucaramanga
Dávinson Sánchez – Atlético Nacional

Wílmar Barrios – Deportes Tolima
Carlos Sánchez Moreno – River Plate Montevideo
Abel Aguilar – Deportivo Cali
James Rodríguez – Academia Tolimense de Fútbol/Envigado
José Izquierdo – Deportivo Pereira
Juan Cuadrado – Independiente Medellín
Mateus Uribe – Deportivo Español
Jefferson Lerma – Atlético Huila
Juan Fernando Quintero – Envigado

Carlos Bacca – Atlético Junior
Radamel Falcao – Lanceros Boyacá/River Plate.
Luis Muriel – Atlético Junior/Deportivo Cali
Miguel Borja – Deportivo Cali


The word “Cantera” is often used to describe teams’ youth academies in Spain and in Spanish speaking countries. In English the word simply translates to “quarry”, which is lovely example of football metonymy. In the south west reaches of Colombia, nestles the city of Santiago de Cali, where famed club Deportivo Cali hold sway. The club is affectionately known as “La Cantera de Oro” or “The Golden Quarry”, a nickname earned for their development of young players.

5 of José Pékerman’s World Cup squad were produced by Deportivo Cali’s youth setup. Camilo Vargas, Cristián Zapata, Abel Aguilar, Luis Muriel and Miguel Borja all wore Cali’s famous all-green kit as youngsters. Headed up by Academy Director Hernando Arias, Cali’s underage setup is as vast as it is impressive.

There are 8 age groups with around 200 players and 50 coaches employed by the club at any one time. The club’s web of influence covers local neighbourhoods El Guabal, Andres Sanin, Los Alamos, Villa Rica, Guachene, Buenaventura and Puerto Tejadawhich, which allows them to follow the development of approximately 3000 prospects at once. Nothing slips through the net at Cali.

The Numbers:

Deportivo Cali – 5
Atlético Nacional, Atlético Junior – 2
Various – 1

Read more: Taking a closer look at Colombia’s World Cup squad


International Friendly - Japan v Ghana

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Eiji Kawashima – Urawa Higashi High School
Masaaki Higashiguchi – Rakunan High School/Niigata University of Management
Kosuke Nakamura – Kashiwa Reysol Youth

Naomichi Ueda – Ohzu High School
Gen Shoji – Yonago Kita High School
Yuto Nagatomo – Meiji University
Wataru Endo – Shonan Bellmare Youth
Hiroki Sakai – Kashiwa Reysol
Tomoaki Makino – Sanfrecce Hiroshima Youth
Gōtoku Sakai – Albirex Niigata
Maya Yoshida – Nagoya Grampus

Keisuke Honda – Seiryō High School
Gaku Shibasaki – Aomoriyamada High School
Genki Haraguchi – Urawa Red Diamonds
Shinji Kagawa – FC Miyagi Barcelona
Takashi Usami – Gamba Osaka
Takashi Inui – Saison Football Club/Yasu High School
Hotaru Yamaguchi – Cerezo Osaka
Makoto Hasebe – Fujieda Higashi High School
Ryota Oshima – Shizuoka Gakuen High School

Shinji Okazaki – Takigawa Daini High School
Yoshinori Mutō – Keio University
Yuya Osako – Kagoshima Josei High School


The Japanese World Cup squad is unique in that it’s the only 23-man selection where no two players were produced by the same youth team or academy. Like other nations from the Far East, the general education system in Japan plays a huge part in developing the country’s future internationals.

13 of Manager Akira Nishino’s players honed their skills at an early age on their high school or university football teams. Nishino himself played for the team at Waseda University for three years during his studies there in the 1970s.

One of the country’s more interesting academies is at FC Miyagi Barcelona in Sendai. The club has no official links to the Catalan club of the same name, though their footballing philosophy borrows heavily from Barcelona’s. Shinji Kagawa is the academies most famous graduate to date. The former Manchester United midfielder spent his summers there between his studies as a youngster, 500 miles away from his home in Osaka.

The Numbers:

Various – 1


Poland World Cup 2018

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Wojciech Szczęsny – Legia Warsaw/Arsenal
Bartosz Białkowski – Olimpia Elbląg
Łukasz Fabiański – MSP Szamotuły/Lech Poznań

Michał Pazdan – Hutnik Kraków
Artur Jędrzejczyk – Igloopol Dębica
Thiago Cionek – Vila Hauer EC
Jan Bednarek – Lech Poznań
Kamil Glik – WSP Wodzisław Śląski
Bartosz Bereszyński – Lech Poznań
Łukasz Piszczek – LKS Goczałkowice-Zdrój/Gwarek Zabrze

Jacek Góralski – Zawisza Bydgoszcz
Karol Linetty – Lech Poznań
Grzegorz Krychowiak – Arka Gdynia/Bordeaux
Kamil Grosicki – Pogoń Szczecin
Maciej Rybus – Pelikan Łowicz/MSP Szamotuły
Jakub Błaszczykowski – Raków Częstochowa
Sławomir Peszko – Orlen Płock
Piotr Zieliński – Zagłębie Lubin/Udinese
Rafał Kurzawa – Marcinki Kępno/Górnik Zabrze

Arkadiusz Milik – Rozwoj Katowice
Robert Lewandowski – MKS Varsovia Warsaw
Łukasz Teodorczyk – Wkra Żuromin
Dawid Kownacki – Lech Poznań


Polish powerhouse Lech Poznań are responsible for the production of 5 members of Adam Nawałka’s World Cup squad and the Railwaymen’s reputation as a leading light in youth development is far reaching. Lech Poznań have the most extensive and advanced underage set-up in Poland – the results speak for themselves. No other club in Poland comes close to matching the output of talent there.

Just last year, Manchester United, recognizing the club’s expertise, raided Lech Poznań to recruit Academy Director Piotr Sadowski, making him their head scout for Poland and a large chunk of Eastern Europe. Sadowski’s influence has already been felt – United beat City to the signing of highly rated Polish defender Łukasz Bejger in March, brining the 16-year old to the club from Lech Poznań.

Lech Poznań are represented well at every age in the Polish international set-up, reflecting the phenomenal job they do in educating young players to a high standard. The club’s reputation for unearthing gems often means they lose their bright young stars earlier than they would like however and that has had a negative impact on their endeavours at first team level. Lech Poznań have won just two league titles in the last twenty-five years.

The Numbers:

Lech Poznań – 5
MSP Szamotuły – 2
Various – 1


Senegal predictions, betting tips and match preview

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Abdoulaye Diallo – INF Clairefontaine/Rennes (France)
Khadim N’Diaye – Espoir Saint Louis
Alfred Gomis – Torino (Italy)

Saliou Ciss – Diambars
Kalidou Koulibaly – Saint-Dié/Metz (France)
Kara Mbodji – Diambars
Youssouf Sabaly – PSG (France)
Lamine Gassama – Nouvelle Vague Jeunes/Lyon (France)
Moussa Wagué – Aspire Academy/Eupen (Belgium)

Idrissa Gueye – Diambars
Salif Sané – Bordeaux (France)
Cheikhou Kouyaté – ASC Yego Dakar/ RWDM Brussels (Belgium)
Cheikh N’Doye – Yakaar
Alfred N’Diaye – US Vandœuvre/Nancy (France)
Badou Ndiaye – Diambars

Moussa Sow – Mantes/Rennes (France)
Mame Biram Diouf – Diaraf
Sadio Mané – Génération Foot
Moussa Konaté – ASC Toure Kunda de Mbour
Diafra Sakho – Génération Foot
Ismaïla Sarr – Génération Foot
M’Baye Niang – Poissy/Caen (France)
Keita Baldé – Damm/Barcelona


Founded in the year 2000, Diambars FC is one of the most remarkable institutions in youth football. A non-profit organisation, the club was founded and financed by the President of the Senegalese Football League Saer Seck with help from footballing legends Patrick Vieira and Bernard Lama.

The club is sponsored by Adidas, who share the club’s vision of “using passion for football as a driving force for education” and already the $1.7m facility, located seventy kilometres south of the capital Dakar, has produced the goods. 4 members of Senegal’s World Cup squad were coached there.

Securing a place at the Diambars school is notoriously difficult however. Each year only 16 boys from between 3,000 to 5,000 applicants are selected after a rigorous evaluation process.  The competitions is intense – earning a place at Diambars is a genuinely life changing moment for many Senegalese children. Of the 200 alumni that have come through the school since it’s first graduating class in 2008, 45 have gone on to play professional football.

The Numbers:

Diambars – 4
Génération Foot – 3
Various – 1

Read more: The Outsiders: Dark Horses to Watch Out For at World Cup 2018

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