336 players under starter's orders
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The action is set to continue in the world of women’s football. With the dust having only just settled at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012, it is the turn of the teenagers to take centre stage, with the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 set to begin on Saturday 22 September. Some 336 players will be taking part in the competition, with the 16 squad lists revealed on today.

All the game’s brightest young prospects will be on display, from Japan’s Yui Narumiya to Germany’s gifted captain Sara Dabritz and Brazil’s Andressa. Like the Canarinha star, there are several players making their second appearance in the competition after Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Among them are Ghana’s Ellen Coleman, who was also present at New Zealand 2008, and Nigeria skipper Victoria Aidelomon.

Perhaps the most experienced of all the teams taking part are the Nigerians. Five of their 19 squad members were in action in the Caribbean two years ago, when the Flamingoes came off second best in an unforgettable quarter-final with Korea Republic, losing 6-5 after extra-time. The Taeguk Ladies went on to win the title in Trinidad and Tobago but will not be around to defend it, having failed to qualify.

The adidas Golden Boot won by Korea Republic’s Yeo Minji last time around is also up for grabs, with the USA’s Summer Green, the all-time leading scorer in the CONCACAF qualifiers with 12 goals, sure to be in contention for that prize. Also looking to get their hands on it are Uruguay’s Yamila Badell, the highest scorer at the South American U-17 Women’s Championship with nine goals, and Gambia’s 15-year-old sharpshooter Penda Bah.

Gambia ready to step out
Tournament newcomers Gambia, who have been drawn in Group B, will be hoping their youthful line-up can make an impact in the Land of Fire. More than a quarter of their squad were born in 1998, among them the competition’s youngest player Sainey Sissohore, well ahead of the eligibility cut-off date of 1 January 1995.

Like Gambia, Group D rivals China PR and Uruguay are appearing in the tournament for the first time, as are Azerbaijan, who line up in Group A. Dauntingly, all four debutants will have to cross swords with at least one side that has been an ever-present at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup since its inception in 2008, namely Korea DPR, who join Gambia in Group B; Germany and Ghana, who are both in Group D; and Nigeria, who take on the host nation in Group A.

Only one section, Group C, is made up entirely of teams that have all played in the competition before: Mexico, New Zealand, Japan and Brazil.

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 kicks off with the meeting between Colombia and Azerbaijan in Baku, with the hosts in action again three days later against the Nigerians in Lankaran.

Click on the link on the right of the page to see the squad lists.