THE DAY REPLAYED – The four teams in action in Thursday’s two quarter-finals saved the best till last, with Korea DPR scoring twice in the closing minutes to end Canada’s run and France holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to see off Nigeria.
The North Koreans checked into the last four of the competition for the third time in a row after grinding out a 2-1 win over the resolute Canadians. Meanwhile, the French booked their first semi-final slot in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the only FIFA women’s tournament in which they had never gone past the group phase before.
It was a close-run thing for Les Bleuettes, however. After a goalless 90 minutes the French erased memories of their shoot-out defeat to Germany in the final of the UEFA European Women’s U-17 Championship by downing the Nigerians 5-3 on spot-kicks.
Goal of the day
Korea DPR 1-0 Canada, Ri Un Sim 78
The North Koreans must have been wondering if they could ever break down the Canadian rearguard, when Ri Hyang-Sim skipped past Larisa Staub on the right and crossed the ball to the far post. Waiting there was none other than their main goal threat Ri Un-Sim, who had all the time and space she needed to plant a firm header into the back of the net and set her side on the road to victory.
Having won the inaugural tournament in New Zealand in 2008 and finished fourth at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, it came as no surprise to see Korea DPR win through to another FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semi-final, especially with a born goalscorer like Un-Sim in their ranks. Against Canada the No10 kept up her record of scoring in every game so far at Azerbaijan 2012, pulling alongside Nigeria’s Chinwendu Ihezuo as the tournament’s leading markswoman with seven goals - just one shy of the all-time record set by Korea Republic’s Yeo Minji two years ago.
Talking your lingo
Nigeria’s supporters used their language skills to get the locals on their side at the 8 km Stadium, chanting “One more” in Azeri after their side put the ball in the back of the net in the first half against France, albeit after the assistant referee had flagged for offside. Suitably impressed, the locals lent their vocal support to the Flamingoes, though their efforts were in vain, the game remaining goalless in normal time.
Bruneau's majestic return
After watching from the sidelines as France conceded a couple of sloppy goals in their 10-2 group-phase romp against Gambia, Bleuettes custodian Romane Bruneau returned to provide some much-needed stability, turning in a supremely confident performance against the Nigerians. A commanding presence in her box, she dealt with every cross that came her way, marshalled her defence with aplomb and pulled off a superb save when Flamingo dangerwoman Ihezuo found herself through on goal.
Consistency not enough for Canucks
Canada have been nothing if not consistent at Azerbaijan 2012. While the North Americans were perhaps the least attack-minded of the eight quarter-finalists, they did find the back of the net in each of their three matches in Group A, each of them coming in the second half, a sequence they maintained against Korea DPR. Yet, having drawn 1-1 with Nigeria and beaten Colombia and Azerbaijan by 1-0 scorelines, the Canucks found that a solitary goal was not enough for them to shake off the determined Asians.
2 - The red card Nigeria captain Victoria Aidelomon received 74 minutes into her side’s game with France - for her second bookable offence of the match - was only the second dismissal of Azerbaijan 2012. Uruguay’s Gabriela Gonzales picked up the first in their group match with China.
"It’s heart-breaking because we gave it our all and we expected to succeed, but soccer’s soccer at the end of the day." Ashley Lawrence, Canada captain
The schedule (all times local)
Friday, 5 October 2012