THE DAY REPLAYED – The first four quarter-final berths at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2012 in Azerbaijan have been filled after a thrilling final round of fixtures in groups A and B. France, Korea DPR, Nigeria and Canada are all through to the last eight.
It was a special day for the French, who not only registered a first victory of the tournament, but also made history with their 10-2 demolition of Gambia. The result also sealed a surprise premature exit for USA, as France finished second to the Koreans in the group, edging out the North Americans on goal difference.
However, Les Bleuettes could even have won by more, as they contrived to hit the goal frame a whopping five times. By contrast, Group A followed the form book, as Canada and Nigeria were already first and second after two matches, and won again to confirm the final standings.
Goal of the day
USA-Korea DPR, Ri Un Sim (4’)
Korea DPR striker Ri Un Sim is emerging as a strong contender for the adidas Golden Boot, as her goal against USA took her to five for the tournament. Ri skilfully controlled a pinpoint pass from Jon So-Yon on her chest, made space to shoot, and battered an unstoppable drive past keeper Jane Campbell and into the far corner.
Dancing Green, young and sweet, only 17
A short time ago, Summer Green was asked to name her favourite leisure pursuit away from the football field. The US player gave an immediate answer: “Dancing. I love dancing, especially with the girls on the team. Before the game, after the game and in between." Green was true to her word prior to kick-off against Korea DPR, rounding up team-mate Mandy Freeman for a few motivational moves, and cajoling the rest of the players to join in with handclapping and finger snapping. However, the fans will not be treated to the dancing US girls in the quarter-finals, as Green and Co must pack for home.
Maiden goal makes history
Penda Bah’s goal against France has earned her a place in the history books. Gambia were appearing at a FIFA women's tournament for the first time, and Bah now goes down as the nation’s first goalscorer. Team-mate Sainey Sissohore will also go home with a memory to savour, as she is not only the tournament’s youngest player at the age of just 13 years and nine months, she is now the youngest scorer too. However, coach Buba Jallow’s side also set a record to forget, as no other team at any FIFA tournament has ever scored three own goals in a single match.
Koreans and quick equalisers
Whenever Korea DPR play at the moment, or so it seems, rapid equalising goals are the order of the day. France needed just 80 seconds to cancel out Ri Un-Sim’s opener just a few days ago, setting a new record. However, that has already been broken, and this time by the Asians themselves, as Hwang Yong-Bong’s team delivered their immediate reply to USA's early opening strike within just 72 seconds.
Learning from experience
Azerbaijan keeper Aytaj Sharifova picked the ball from the back of her net 15 times in the first two group matches, with ten of the goals coming before the interval. It was a different story in the hosts’ last match at the tournament, as Sharifova kept a clean sheet against Canada through to half-time. The North Americans picked up the pace in the second half and soon broke the stalemate, but there were no further goals and the young Azerbaijan team can certainly rate that as progress. They clearly have a long way to go yet, but their third and last appearance holds out a good deal of promise.
Stat of the day
300 – USA’s Darian Jenkins had the honour of scoring the 300th goal in the history of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. In the 20 matches to date at the 2012 edition in Azerbaijan, the fans have witnessed 79 goals.
"We've played 3 different games and today we gave a good performance. They did what they could but I'm disappointed, because we could not get make the next step. However, my team showed strong character and I'm very proud of them." Sissy Raith, Azerbaijan coach
Sunday 30 September 2012 (all times given are local)
New Zealand-Brazil, 14.00
China PR-Ghana, 17.00