A virtually flawless performance from Brazil saw them secure one of the three CONMEBOL tickets available for the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, and successfully defend their South American title in the process.
Runners-up Uruguay and third-placed Colombia also qualified for the competition, set to be played from 22 September to 17 October this year. It will be the Uruguayans’ first-ever appearance at the final stages of a women’s FIFA World Cup at any level, while the Colombians return to the global stage after missing out in 2010. FIFA.com rounds up all the results from the recent South American U-17 Women's Championship, held in Bolivia.
Brazil once again demonstrated their regional superiority by recording some truly impressive statistics at the qualifying tournament. A Canarinha won all seven of their matches, scoring a remarkable 33 goals and conceding just three, better than any other competing side. In addition, not only did two of their players – Byanca Araujo (eight goals) and Brenda (seven) – finish among the event’s top scorers, the team even picked up the Fair Play award for good measure.
Coach Edvaldo Erlacher, who was also in charge when Brazil secured the U-17 regional title in 2010, has a gifted crop of players at his disposal, among them the captain Andressa, scorer of the only goal in the title-deciding clash with Uruguay.
The midfielder was part of that successful team from two years ago, and was also involved in the Brazil U-20 side that became South American champions in February. “When you achieve all of your objectives, you cannot but be satisfied,” said Erlacher, who will be hoping to lead A Canarinha beyond the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup for the first time.
With just one victory in their two previous appearances at the tournament, Uruguay arrived in Bolivia with a relatively low profile, but all that changed when they put seven goals past Ecuador in their opening game.
Knuckling down in their remaining matches, the Uruguayans confirmed their excellent run of form in the penultimate game of the final round, when they booked their passage to Azerbaijan by beating Argentina 4-2, the second time in the competition they had defeated Las Albicelestes. The game will also be remembered for the four-goal exploits of lethal Colon forward Yamilla Badell, who just recently celebrated her 16th birthday.
Graciela Rebollo, the only female coach present in Bolivia, guided her Uruguay side to six wins out of seven, the only loss coming in a closely-contested deciding match against Brazil. Spearheaded by a strikeforce of Badell, top scorer with nine goals, and Carolina Birizamberri (four), the tournament runners-up boasted the second-best attack with 19 goals, a crucial asset for a team that managed to break new ground for the women’s game in Uruguay.
After claiming the title at the maiden edition of the qualifying tournament in 2008, but failing to advance last time around in 2010, Colombia travelled to Bolivia seeking to make amends. This they would duly do in the last game of the final round, when they secured a place at Azerbaijan 2012 by seeing off Argentina 4-0.
Felipe Taborda’s team were inconsistent at times, winning four of their fixtures and losing the other three, twice to Brazil and once to Uruguay. Las Cafeteras fielded a well-balanced side, especially in attack, as demonstrated by the fact that their 15 goals came from eight different players. Of the scorers, it was the outstanding Dayana Castillo who led the way, scoring four times.
And the rest…
Most disappointed of the sides that missed had to be Argentina, who yet again fell at the final hurdle. Las Albicelestes finished second to Uruguay in Group A, but were extremely disappointing in the final round, losing all three of their games and conceding 13 goals in the process. The finished last in the four-team pool, missing out on qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the third time in a row.
Host nation Bolivia did not fully live up to fans’ expectations, but they were nevertheless unfortunate not to advance to the final round, after losing their decisive match 4-3 to Argentina. Similarly, Venezuela paid a high price for losing to Colombia in their opening fixture.
Several would-be stars emerged at the tournament, especially Bolivian attacking midfielder Carla Mendez and Ecuadorian forward Margaret Barre, whose opportunism and effectiveness marked them out as players to watch in the future.
Final phase - standings
Brazil, 9 points*; Uruguay 6*; Colombia 3*; Argentina 0
Group A: Uruguay 12 Argentina 9, Ecuador 4, Bolivia 3, Peru 1
Group B: Brazil 12, Colombia 9, Venezuela 6, Paraguay 3, Chile 0
Yamila Badell (URU) 9
Byanca Araujo (BRA) 8
Brena (BRA) 7
Fair Play Award: Brazil
* Qualified for Azerbaijan 2012