Summary: Laos is looking to defend their title this year, and at first glance, it doesn't seem like they'll have any difficulty at all in getting back to the playoffs. Laos is far and away the most talented and experienced team in the group. El Salvador, after a great showing 2 years ago, wasn't able to make it past France and Laos in their group last year. This year, El Salvador could be hurting even more, by losing some of the younger and talented players to the University Final timeframe and other issues. El Salvador will be hard-pressed to put together a team capable of beating a top team.
Austria has always been a fighter in the tournament, but never had the skills to overcome the best teams. They work hard and score some goals, but can't put together the total effort needed to win. If it's true that they're losing their keeper to Norway, it will be a huge blow to their team. Sudan is a newcomer, and it's always tough to judge how newcomers will do(ex. Afghanistan 2 years ago). Sudan will get acquainted very quickly with the close quarters and physical style of this tournament. They might be bringing some skilled players, but if you haven't played in this tournament before, you're in for some trouble. Columbia has always been like Austria...they'll make a team work for the win. You can't just show up. Northern Ireland has been a strong team in the past, but they seem to have slowed down. The thing is, if they're going to get back on track, this is the group to do it in.
Prediction: Laos should easily win the group, barring a stellar performance by El Salvador. El Salvador is the real wild card here. If they don't show up with a decent team, this group is wide open. Austria, Sudan, Columbia, and Northern Ireland can duke it out for the rest of the spots. If one of these 4 teams can dominate the other ones, they'll have a good shot at El Salvador for 2nd.
In finishing order: Laos, El Salvador, Columbia, Northern Ireland, Sudan, Austria