The stage is set for four more enticing encounters in Azerbaijan as the teams in groups C and D make their second appearances at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. The day's most intriguing game pits Germany against China PR in a tussle for top spot in Group D, while Brazil are anxious for their first points against Mexico, newcomers Uruguay face the experienced Ghanaians and New Zealand hope to end their losing streak against free-scoring Japan.
Match of the day
China PR-Germany, Baku, 26 September 2012, 17.00 (local time)
The stakes will be high at Bayil Stadium in Baku, where China PR and Germany are set to lock horns fresh from respective opening wins against Uruguay and Ghana. The two rivals will be bidding to seize control of Group D, knowing that a win would practically guarantee their passage through to the last eight.
Although they have never met before at this level, both teams possess plenty of respect for each other going into the game. "We can't wait to play them but we're aware that it will be very difficult to beat them," explained Germany captain Sara Dabritz, echoing the thoughts of her Chinese counterpart Jiang Tingting: "Women’s football in Germany is strong in all aspects and, as we’ve never played against them before, they will be a new challenge for us."
Also in Group D, Uruguay face Ghana in a match neither side can afford to lose. Elimination awaits for whoever finishes second best and Uruguay's task will not be helped by the absence of suspended goalkeeper Gabriela Gonzalez, who collected the first red card in FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup history against China PR. Ghana will take on the tournament newcomers with a full complement, in contrast, their experienced squad including six players who travelled to Trinidad & Tobago 2010 (Ellen Coleman, Ivy Kolli, Regina Antwi, Rasheda Abdul-Rahman, Sherifatu Sumaila and Priscilla Okyere).
In Group C, meanwhile, South American challengers Brazil tackle North American hopefuls Mexico. Swept aside by Japan last time out, Brazil will be determined to get their campaign up and running against El Tri, who saw off New Zealand in their own last match to register a second consecutive win at this level. Their first in that sequence was a 4-0 defeat of South Africa at Trinidad & Tobago 2010 – so will they be able to post a third?
As for New Zealand, they have lost their last four outings in FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup final tournaments and intend to halt that run against Japan. Their mission will be anything but straightforward, however, given that the Little Nadeshiko slotted five goals past Brazil last time out to hand As Canarinhas their heaviest reverse in meetings between the teams. Confidence will undoubtedly be sky high in the Japanese camp ahead of this crucial encounter.
Player to watch
New Zealand's Lily Alfeld gave a goalkeeping masterclass in her side's opening 1-0 loss to Mexico, pulling off a string of remarkable reflex saves and rushing off her line to snuff out danger. With Japan next up for the Young Football Ferns, she will need to be in inspired mood once again, the Asian hopefuls having rattled in 44 goals in 11 games at FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup finals – more than any other team.
"We have to learn from our mistakes in the first match, get going again and try to win our next two games. Mexico are a very well-organised team and we'll have to be at our best to beat them, even if I think they're not as strong technically as Japan," Andressa, Brazil playmaker.
The schedule (all local time)
Mexico-Brazil (Baku, 8km Stadium, 17.00)
New Zealand-Japan (Baku, 8km Stadium, 20.00)
Uruguay-Ghana (Baku, Bayil Stadium, 17.00)
China PR-Germany (Baku, Bayil Stadium, 20.00)