THE DAY REPLAYED – Following the lead of Ghana, Italy and Venezuela on Tuesday, Japan, Mexico and Nigeria checked into the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 with one game to spare. The Japanese showed exactly what they are capable of by inflicting a heavy defeat on Paraguay, who still have a chance of reaching the knockout phase. To do that they need to win their final match in Group C against Spain, who collected their first points of the tournament with an impressive display against a New Zealand side that are not out of the qualifying picture either.
Over in Group D, the Mexicans proved too strong for China PR, making it two wins out of two to advance in style and end their opponents’ hopes. Joining Las Aztecas in the last eight are Nigeria, who did just enough to see off Colombia 2-1, a result that ended the South American’s hopes of progressing.
Olé olé: Caught cold by Japan in their opening match, Spain finally warmed to their game at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma in Tibas. Making light of a chilly breeze, Las Rojitas grabbed an encouraging win over the New Zealanders, dominating possession with their polished passing game, with each pass bringing cheers of “olé” from an appreciative crowd. The Spanish also entertained the fans with some well-taken goals, the pick of them being Pilar Garrote’s screaming drive into the top corner.
A team triumph: The third-largest win in the history of the competition, Japan’s 10-0 defeat of Paraguay was also the country’s biggest ever victory in a FIFA World Cup competition. The Little Nadeshiko’s team ethic was very much in evidence. Their only multiple scorer was captain Hina Sugita, who helped herself to a hat-trick in the final 15 minutes, with the seven other goals being scored by different players, two of them substitutes.
Packing a punch: Rebeca Bernal adopted a boxing stance as she prepared to take the penalty that put Mexico on the road to victory against the Chinese. “It helps me settle my nerves when I’m stressed,” she told FIFA.com afterwards. Bernal added that she had been practising her spot-kicks the day before the game, missing her first attempt, which she placed to the keeper’s right, and then switching sides to score with her next two efforts. Not surprisingly, the combative Mexican stuck with what had worked for her the day before, confidently placing her kick to the left of Peng Shimeng.
290 – In opening the score three minutes into her side’s game against Nigeria, Angie Rodriguez struck Colombia’s first goal in 290 minutes of football at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the second-longest goalless streak in the history of the competition. The longest belongs to New Zealand, who went 349 minutes without finding the back of the net.
Saturday, 22 March 2014 (local time)
Zambia-Costa Rica (Tibas, 20:00)
Venezuela-Italy (Alajuela, 20:00)
Canada-Ghana (Tibas, 17:00)
Korea DPR-Germany (Alajuela, 17:00)