The highlight of the second day of action at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup will be a mouth-watering showdown between Spain and Japan, while six other sides hope to make a solid start in their quest for a berth in the knockout phase.
Match of the day
Spain-Japan, Tibas, 16 March 2014, 14.00 (local time)
Group C is set to kick off in style as two genuine candidates for the global title go head to head. Two years ago, Japan experienced a frustrating quarter-final exit after a highly impressive group campaign, and the Young Nadeshiko will be anxious to put that disappointment behind them. Instead, they will take far greater inspiration from the 2010 generation, who fell agonisingly short of the title after losing the final to Korea Republic on penalties.
The Asian champions could hardly have asked for a more testing first match, however, particularly as Spain are desperate to shine after finishing second best to Germany in the European qualifying tournament. Las Rojitas nonetheless came away with the meanest defence and most prolific attack on the continent, meaning they should be well equipped to counter Japan's attacking verve and impeccable organisation.
The other matches
Also in Group C, tournament regulars New Zealand will take on Paraguay, who are back on the world stage after their unconvincing debut performance at the inaugural edition in 2008.
In Group D, the race for qualification begins with a meeting between Mexico and Colombia, neither of whom have graced the knockout phase despite two previous finals tilts apiece. El Tri come into the tournament as CONCACAF champions for the first time in their history, and appear to be in stronger shape than their South American rivals.
Elsewhere, U-17 Women's World Cup stalwarts Nigeria are aiming to improve on their quarter-final finishes in 2010 and 2012. They get started against a China PR side making only their second appearance after exiting in the group phase two years ago. Despite that showing, Gao Hong's charges have proved in recent months that they have what it takes to outshine their predecessors.
Player to watch
Spain midfielder Andrea Sanchez Falcon has a reputation to live up to after finishing top scorer during European qualifying, along with Germany captain Jasmin Sehan. Plying her trade with Barcelona since August 2012, she is highly confident Spain can do well and is anxious for their adventure to finally get started.
6 – New Zealand will take on Paraguay determined to end a run of six consecutive reverses at the U-17 Women's World Cup, having last avoided defeat when they won their final group outing against Colombia on home soil in 2008.
"I know we're not the group favourites, but our main goal is to improve and get stronger so we can develop the team and the players for the future."
New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova.
Fixtures (all local time)
New Zealand-Paraguay (Tibas, Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, 11.00)
Spain-Japan (Tibas, Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, 14.00)
Mexico-Colombia (Alajuela, Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto Scotiabank, 14.00)
China PR-Nigeria (Alajuela, Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto Scotiabank, 17.00)