THE DAY REPLAYED – The opening day of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 proved to be a bittersweet one for the hosts, who were supported in style at San Jose’s Estadio Nacional by a boisterous 34,000 crowd, a record for the opening match of the tournament. Opponents Venezuela rained on the Tico party, however, turning in a polished performance to take all three points.
Elsewhere, Italy were indebted to a supersub as they overcame Zambia, while Germany produced a storming comeback to snatch a point against Canada, and Ghana flexed their muscles to round off a day that will live long in the memory for the people of Costa Rica.
Goal of the day
Ghana-Korea DPR 2-0, Jane Ayieyam, 16 mins
Though Ayieyam’s strike was not the prettiest of goals, what made it special was the fact it was the first of Costa Rica 2014. The Ghanaian has now scored five FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup goals, having struck four times at Azerbaijan 2012, when she got on the scoresheet against Germany and Uruguay and helped herself to a brace against China.
Costa Rica has been looking forward to this tournament for weeks, which explains why a record crowd of 34,743 pitched up at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose to watch a colourful opening ceremony. Chanting “Pura Vida” throughout, the fans were royally entertained, with fireworks and music aplenty and an opening speech by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. Things did not work out so well on the pitch, however, as Las Ticas fell to defeat against Venezuela, becoming the third host nation to lose their first match of the tournament, after New Zealand in 2008 and Azerbaijan in 2012.
One girl’s misery is another’s fortune: Only 18 minutes of Italy’s meeting with Zambia had elapsed when Martina Piemonte hobbled off with an injury and was replaced by Annamaria Serturini. The sub made the most of her opportunity, scoring twice as La Azzurra kicked off with a win against a Zambia side that had arrived at the Estadio Nacional in good heart, singing and dancing away. Unfortunately for the Africans, they were unable to find their rhythm on the pitch.
CONCACAF champs waste fast start: Canada scored their fastest ever goal in the competition when captain Jessie Fleming stroked home a free-kick after only three minutes of their match against Germany. Two goals to the good at the break, the Canadians looked to be coasting to a comfortable win, only for the European champions, who lost their last two games at Azerbaijan 2012, to rouse themselves and salvage a point.
100: That match between Germany and Canada in Liberia was the 100th in the history of the tournament, which is being held for the fourth time, having previously been staged in New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago and Azerbaijan.
“They caught us cold in the second half. There’s no other explanation for it. They caught us off guard. The tournament has only just begun, though, and we can still qualify. The girls were very committed and we deserved better. I’m not sure we deserved to win, but I think we could have got something out of the game,” Costa Rica coach Juan Diego Quesada.
Sunday, 16 March 2014 (local time)
New Zealand-Paraguay, 11:00