Three of the most prolific teams at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2012 are in action on Thursday in the first set of quarter-finals in Azerbaijan. Last-eight opponents Nigeria (15 goals) and France (11) racked up 26 strikes between them in the group stage, while Korea DPR also netted an impressive 13 times.
The latter take on a Canada side somewhat less fearsome in front of goal, but all the more effective. The Canucks squeezed out two 1-0 victories and a draw to give themselves as good a chance as anyone of reaching the last four.
France are in the quarter-finals of a FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup for the very first time, after bowing out in the group stages of New Zealand 2008 and failing to qualify for Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Nigeria, meanwhile, have been involved in every edition to date and line up in the last eight for the second successive occasion.
The two nations have never faced one another previously at a FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, but the clash promises goals with both sides renowned for their attack-minded philosophies. Nigeria (92) and France (76) have attempted more shots on goal than any other team at the tournament so far, although overall statistics speak for the French. Les Bleuettes beat their African opponents 3-2 at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in 2008 and again 1-0 at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™, each at the quarter-final stage.
Korea DPR - Canada, Baku, 4 October, 17:00 (local)
Korea DPR are regular challengers at this level, having claimed the title at the inaugural edition at New Zealand 2008 before being knocked out in the semi-finals by Asian rivals Japan in Trinidad and Tobago two years later. Hwang Yong Bong's side have been in fine form so far, thrashing Gambia by a record 11-0 scoreline and then securing their place in the knockout stages with two somewhat less spectacular draws, Ri Un Sim scoring in all three group matches.
In their only meeting at a FIFA women's tournament to date, Korea DPR earned a 2-1 victory against Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan earlier in the year. Now it's up to the 'younger' Canucks to make amends in Baku.
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Chinwendu Ihezuo already has the adidas Golden Boot in her sights as the tournament's top scorer with six goals so far, although Korea DPR's Ri Un Sim is staking a serious claim too with five strikes.
11 – Bryan Rosenfeld will lead Canada for the 11th time at a FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup when he takes to the dugout in Baku on Thursday. He was in charge of the Canucks at each of the two previous editions of the tournament and is the only coach, alongside Japan's Hiroshi Yoshida, to have been involved at all three FIFA U-17 Women's World Cups to date.
"Korea DPR are a good side, but we're an excellent team ourselves. They're quicker than us and they're very good dribblers, and we need to be on our guard against them when they attack. The goals will come if we stick together and stay strong and united. It's all or nothing now. If we win, we're into the next round. If we lose, we're going home. So we have to give our all," Valerie Sanderson, Canada forward