THE DAY REPLAYED – The group stage at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup wrapped up with few surprises amid an avalanche of goals. In Group C the ever-impressive Japan nailed down top spot with a one-sided 3-0 win over New Zealand, leaving Spain in second despite their crushing 7-1 victory over Paraguay.
There was one change at the summit of Group D, however, as Nigeria turned on their trademark power and flair to overpower Mexico and claim top spot. The other match saw China PR score a 3-1 comeback win over Colombia amid a flurry of second-half goals.
Clasico distraction inspires Las Rojitas
The Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona may be the match that stops a nation for a few hours in Spain, but it even had an effect in the remote town of Liberia in northern Costa Rica. The Spanish players managed to fit in ten minutes of the Clasico on television, before it was time to depart the team hotel for their match against Paraguay. Not that there was any suggestion of the Spanish players being distracted as evidenced by their emphatic 7-1 win; a record for Spain at the tournament. It was little surprise too that none of the Spanish players correctly selected the 4-3 Clasico scoreline in their tipping competition.
Group stage queens
Make no mistake Japan are the team coaches will surely dread when the draw is made for future editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Their 3-0 win over New Zealand saw Japan complete a perfect group stage campaign and thus become the only nation to reach the quarter-finals in all four editions of the tournament. Indeed, the Little Nadeshiko’s historical record is simply stunning. They have now won 11 of their 12 group matches - losing only to Spain in 2010 – notching a stunning 62 goals in the process, while also keeping a clean sheet in their past eight group stage games.
Good things come in small packages
Football is always prone to springing the least likely outcome. So it was with Paraguay’s lone goal in their crushing 7-1 defeat. Standing at a modest 155 cm, midfielder Fanny Godoy – the smallest player on the pitch – was an unlikely candidate to find the net with a header, but that is exactly what happened in the midway point of the first half in Liberia. It may be a sidenote in Paraguay’s hefty defeat, but it is easy to imagine the goal being a conversation point in the Godoy family for years to come.
7 – Rikako Kobayashi’s successful penalty conversion for Japan today in the second half against New Zealand leaves the Little Nadeshiko with a historical record of seven goals from as many penalties awarded, well clear of Korea DPR with three.
“We are happy to go through but we still have to improve quite some things," Spain’s Nahikari Garcia demonstrates Las Rojitas’ desire for perfection despite an impressive 7-1 win over Paraguay.