Big three ready to step out

The action gets under way in Groups C and D of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 on Sunday, with the promise of plenty and goals and excitement. In the pick of the day’s four games in Baku, 2010 runners-up Japan put their free-flowing style to the test against Brazil’s latest generation of teenage talents, while much-fancied Germany take on Ghana.

Match of the day
Brazil-Japan, Bayil Stadium, Baku, Sunday 23 September, 18:00 (local time)

This intriguing match pits together two attack-minded sides as Asian tactical discipline goes head-to-head against Brazilian flair. Both teams are strongly fancied to impress at Azerbaijan 2012, having dominated their respective qualifying competitions.

Unbeaten in winning the South American qualifiers, A Seleção are looking to their experienced skipper Andressa to inspire them. A survivor of the side that reached the last eight at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, the midfielder has the task of ensuring her team-mates harness tactical awareness to their natural talent.

For their part, the Japanese will be looking to midfield dynamo Yui Narumiya, the star performer in the Asian qualifying competition. Having come so close two years ago, the Little Nadeshiko are intent on going one better this time and winning their first world title in the category.

Other highlights

Germany have made a habit of winning big in their opening games in the competitions. Two years ago they kicked off with a 9-0 drubbing of Mexico, and at New Zealand 2008 they opened up with a 5-0 defeat of Costa Rica. Ghana provide Sara Dabritz and Co with their first opponents this time around, and the Africans will not be lacking in confidence after their strong showing in the qualifiers. The only previous meeting between the two sides in the competition came four years ago in the group phase, the Germans winning 3-2.

First-time finalists Uruguay and China PR face off in the other game in Group D. The Asians are looking to repeat the success they have enjoyed in FIFA women's competitions at other age levels, while the South Americans are something of an unknown quantity. Finally, Mexico and New Zealand meet in Group C, with both sides looking to make a solid start to their respective bids to reach the knockout phase for the first time.

Player to watch

Uruguay’s Yamila Badell arrives in Azerbaijan full of confidence after top-scoring in the South American U-17 Women’s Championship with nine goals. The striker played a key role in La Celeste’s qualification for their first world finals in the category, scoring all her side’s goals in the 4-2 semi-final win over Argentina.

The stat

5 - Japan are unbeaten in open play in their last five FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup matches, the last of them the final at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, when they drew with Korea DPR after extra-time before going down on penalties.

The words

“After what we saw at Japan 2012, USA and Germany are definitely the ones to watch, though Brazil are always a threat. They’re among the favourites for the title,” Japan No9 Yui Narumiya.

The schedule (all local time)

Mexico-New Zealand, Baku, Bayil Stadium, 15:00
Brazil-Japan, Baku, Bayil Stadium, 18:00
Uruguay-China PR, Baku, Dalgha Arena, 15:00
Ghana-Germany, Baku, Dalgha Arena, 18:00