The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup's hugely entertaining inaugural editon will reach a mouth-watering climax on Sunday when USA and Korea DPR battle it out for this category's first-ever world title. The impressive Asian champions have improved steadily as the tournament has progressed, while the young Americans now appear to be peaking after a shaky start to the competition.
Germany were many experts' favourites to make the final, but the Europeans were edged out by USA at the semi-final stage and instead contest an intriguing all-European third place play-off with England.
Match of the day
Korea DPR-United States, 16 November, 16.00 local time, Auckland
Few would have bet on these two sides reaching the final after their initial group matches. The Koreans were held to a 1-1 draw by Ghana, while USA were comprehensively beaten by Japan. Yet as is so often the case in major tournaments, two sides who failed to shine early on are about to take the stage for the final.
Korea DPR upped their game noticeably in the knockout stages, crushing Denmark 4-0 in their quarter-final before disposing of England, 2-1 in the semis. Striker Myong Hwa Jon has the scoring knack and is unquestionably one of the revelations of the tournament. A number of USA players stand out too, including Kristie Mewis in midfield, striker Vicki DiMartino, who has found the net in every game so far, and defender Crystal Dunn, whose performance in shackling dangerous German striker Dzsenifer Marozsan in the semi-final was further proof of her growing maturity.
Whatever the result in this third place play-off, England have already enjoyed an expectation-busting tournament. Lois Fidler's girls were not among the pre-event favourites, but inflicted defeat on both Brazil and Nigeria en route to the knockout stages, where they shocked Japan before falling to Korea DPR in the semis.
Bitterly disappointed to lose to USA and thus miss out on the final, Ralf Peter's Germany side may find it harder to pick themselves up for this one. Providing they manage to put that galling semi-final loss behind them, the Germans should be favourites, especially as Marozsan will be aiming to make one final push for the top scorer and best player awards.
1 - The first editon of every FIFA women's tournament has so far been won by the United States. So can this crop of young Americans follow the lead of their predecessors who triumphed at the inaugural FIFA Womens World Cup, FIFA U-20 Womens World Cup and Women's Olympic Football Tournament?
What they said
""I think [the defeat to Japan] was definitely a good thing. We needed to learn what we had to do as a team and that game was a huge part of showing us where we needed to improve. Now our touches are a lot better and we're finding our rhythm a lot earlier in games. I think we're looking good for this one," Crystal Dunn, USA player.