Speaking to FIFA.com just days before the start of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, Colombia coach Felipe Taborda made it very clear who his chief asset was: “Dayana Castillo is heading into the tournament on her very best form and I’m sure she’s going to play a big part at this World Cup with her goals.”
The player in question proved that point on the opening day of the tournament, scoring twice inside the first 20 minutes to set Las Cafeteras on the way to a 4-0 defeat of hosts Azerbaijan, with goals from Gabriela Maldonado and Laura Aguirre rounding off a perfect start for the South Americans.
Though the Azeris are the minnows of Group A, opening games are always fraught with danger, especially when they are played out in a stadium packed with more than 30,000 fans. As Dayana told FIFA.com after the final whistle, however, the Colombians stuck to their game plan against the section outsiders, pursuing their belief in possession of the ball and team play to pass their first test with flying colours.
“We were nervous and anxious to start off with, and a little bit fearful about all the fans that were there,” she admitted. “Fortunately we were able to handle it, impose ourselves and come away with the three points.”
Saturday’s victory, which was Colombia’s first in a FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup match, will give them plenty of confidence ahead of their upcoming games against Canada and Nigeria, who drew 1-1 in their match to leave Taborda’s charges top of the section.
Having had an early taste of success, the single-minded Castillo and her team-mates are now hungry for more: “We want to go on and make more history. Obviously we want to reach the second round but if you ask me, my dream is to be a world champion.”
She followed up with a message of hope for the fans back home: “They should never forget that we are doing this for them and that we’re going to do all we can to be the champions.”
History in the making?
Before any of that can happen, the ambitious Colombians first of all have to face Canada on Tuesday. Three more points would take Las Cafeteras through to the next phase, and captain Castillo said she knows how they can get them:
“From what we saw of their game against Nigeria, they play a very direct game with lots of long balls. The most important thing will be to get the ball off them so we can play our possession game. It won’t be easy, though, because they’ve prepared very well for this tournament.”
A member of Colombia’s U-20 side at this year’s Pan-American Games despite still only being 16, Castillo possesses that little bit more experience that most other players in the category, a factor that could prove decisive against the Canadians.
As well as her leadership qualities, her goalscoring touch is vital to Colombia’s hopes. Her side’s top scorer in the South American qualifiers with four goals, she showed just what she can do against the Azeris, and both her coach and team-mates have every confidence she can keep her purple patch going
A self-confessed Barcelona fan and admirer of Andres Iniesta, the smiling star revealed the target she had set herself before flying out to Azerbaijan: “I said before we started that I wanted to score two goals a game, and so far, so good.”
Should she keep achieving her dreams she will likely end the tournament with a tally of 12 goals and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup trophy tucked under her arm. First up, however, comes that crucial game against the Canadians, the next step on Colombia’s climb to glory.