For most of the players taking part, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 represents a first appearance at the game’s premier event in the category.
Match of the day
Germany - Canada, Liberia, 15 March 2014, 20:00 (Local time)
Germany are one of the top sides in the women’s game, the senior team having won the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ on two occasions and the U-20s having triumphed in 2010 when they hosted the tournament. So far, though, victory at a U-17 Women’s World Cup has eluded them. Coach Anouschka Bernhard’s team will travel to Costa Rica as reigning European champions, her young guns having beaten Spain on penalties in the European Championship final in England, and the players have their sights firmly set on winning the ultimate prize.
In their Group B opener on Saturday, Germany face Canada, who qualified for the three previous editions of this event without getting past the quarter-final stage. Despite suffering defeat to Mexico in the final of CONCACAF qualification, the young Canadians did not concede once in the regional tournament, losing the final on penalties after a 0-0 draw in normal time. Canada’s solid performance in qualifying suggests they will be one of the tournament favourites this time around.
The other matches
Group B’s other encounter on matchday one is between 2008 winners Korea DPR and African representatives Ghana, two other teams who have never failed to qualify for an U-17 World Cup.
In Group A, hosts Costa Rica take on Venezuela, with the Central Americans making their second appearance in the competition. On the previous occasion in 2008, Las Ticas finished bottom of a group containing eventual champions Korea DPR, third-placed Germany and Ghana. But with the support of the home crowd, they remain hopeful of progressing further this time around. This year’s edition also marks Venezuela’s second appearance in the competition, and the South Americans will be keen to improve on their disappointing group-stage exit in 2010. Italy and Zambia will contest the group’s other match, with both sides making their debut at the event.
Player to watch
At just 15, Gloriana Villalobos is Costa Rica’s youngest squad member at the World Cup. Despite her tender age, the No10 is one of the hosts’ best players and is expected to captain her country throughout the tournament.
5 – Zambia will be the fifth African nation to take part in an U-17 Women’s World Cup, following in the footsteps of Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and South Africa, all of whom failed to reach the knockout stages on their debut appearance.
“I’m 100 per cent sure we will go to the same level as last time (third-place at Azerbaijan 2012), or beyond that.”
Ghana coach Evans Adotey
Italy - Zambia (San Jose, Nacional stadium, 17:00)
Costa Rica - Venezuela (San Jose, Nacional stadium, 20:00)
Ghana – Korea DPR (Liberia, Edgardo Baltodano Briceno stadium, 17:00)
Germany - Canada (Liberia, Edgardo Baltodano Briceno stadium, 20:00)
(All times are local)