THE DAY REPLAYED – Kim So-Hyang and Kadidiatou Diani were the unexpected stars of the day with both hitting match-winning braces to take Korea DPR and France through to Saturday’s final at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012.
On a rare off-day for in-form team-mate Ri Un-Sim, the North Korean No20 stepped up to give the 2008 champions a narrow victory over old foes Germany. Earlier in the day, Diani helped France make a little piece of tournament history as they became the first European side to reach the final, her two well-taken goals proving too much for Ghana.
Having never progressed beyond the group phase of the competition, Les Bleuettes are now aiming for the pinnacle, while their opponents in Saturday’s final have plenty of good omens on their side. The North Koreans also beat Germany en route to becoming inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup winners in 2008, and what's more, no team outside Asia have ever won the competition, with neighbours Korea Republic taking the honours at Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
Goal of the day
France 2-0 Ghana, Kadidiatou Diani 89
The scorer of France’s first-half opener, Kadidiatou Diani set the seal on their victory when she ran on to Noemie Carage’s defence-splitting diagonal pass and steered the ball coolly past Victoria Agyei in the Ghana goal.
D-Day for Diani
Diani proved an inspired choice as France’s attacking spearhead at the 8 km Stadium, with a number of landmarks coming her way on a day to remember for Les Bleuettes. Her opening goal against Ghana was the 350th in the history of the competition, and her second made her the first player to score twice in a FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semi-final. Just for good measure, she also overtook Lea Declercq as her side’s leading markswoman at Azerbaijan 2012 with four goals.
A tale of two ends
Germany’s quarter-final hero against Brazil, the ever-alert Rebecca Knaak again showed her worth by reducing the deficit against the North Koreans. It was to be a different story at the other end of the pitch for the Germans, where the opportunistic Kim So-Hyang made the most of their defensive lapses, latching on to a rebound and then a misplaced backward header to give Korea DPR another final berth.
A poisoned chalice
Ghana’s solitary goal in their quarter-final win over Japan was the first the Asian side had conceded in 364 minutes of FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup football, beating the previous record of 350 minutes set two years ago by Korea DPR. As fate would have it, Ghana made the record theirs against France on Tuesday, extending it to 372 minutes before tasting the very medicine they had dished out to the Japanese and crashing out of the tournament.
France’s lucky colour
Three red cards have been shown at Azerbaijan 2012, two of them for France’s opponents. Nigeria’s Victoria Aidelomon was the first, seeing red in the 74th minute of last week’s quarter-final between the two countries, which the French went on to win on penalties. On Tuesday it was Ghana’s turn to go down to ten against Les Bleuettes, as Jane Ayieyam picked up a second yellow card six minutes after half-time to become the first player ever to be dismissed in a semi-final of the competition and leave the Europeans with another numerical advantage.
7 - The number of goals Ri Un-Sim, the competition’s top scorer, has struck so far. The North Korean was the only player at Azerbaijan 2012 to have found the back of the net in every game, a run that came to an end against Germany. She remains one goal short of equalling the all-time tournament record of eight goals, set by Korea Republic’s Yeo Minji, at Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
"There are no words to describe what I feel right now. It’s something very special, it’s the first time that we reach the final of a FIFA tournament and that is beautiful. Now I really hope we can win the tournament. We have a fantastic team, we work very well together as if we were just one, it is a great feeling
Ghoutia Karchouni, France midfielder