After falling to a 4-1 defeat by Paraguay in the final phase of the inaugural South American Women's U-17 Championship in 2008, a reverse which enabled Colombia to take the continental title, Brazil made no such mistakes in the 2010 edition. Indeed, A Canarinha put an emphatic seal on their Sudamericano success with a 7-0 final demolition of a Chilean side that had looked to be making impressive progress.
Prior to the match, both teams had already qualified to represent CONMEBOL at September’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. There they will be joined by surprise packages Venezuela after La Vinotinto edged out Paraguay 1-0 to clinch the third and final qualifying place.
Roared on by the fans on home soil in Sao Paulo, coach Edvaldo Erlacher’s charges won all of their matches, starting with Group A victories over Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Only behind in one game, the 4-1 semi-final win over Venezuela, A Auriverde’s dominance was underlined by 41 goals scored in just six matches.
“The girls knew how to make the game look easy against a very organised Chilean side,” said Brazil boss Erlacher. “They made the most of their biggest strengths: quality passing and the ability to switch play. A success like this is very important for helping them build a solid career in the game.”
The host nation also netted the competition’s Fair Play award and its players featured heavily in the top scorers’ standings, with Paula and Glaucia leading the way on seven goals apiece. Thais, with five, came next, followed by Andressa, Beatriz, Ingrid and Jucinara on four. “This result was very important for our confidence levels ahead of the World Cup. We’ve proven that the future is bright for Brazil’s women’s football,” said sharpshooter Paula after the final.
And despite their collapse in said final, Chile also had plenty of positives to take away from their Sudamericano adventure. “Our main objective was to try and qualify for the World Cup and we did that with something to spare,” said La Rojita supremo Ronnie Radonich.
“The team played pretty well in the first phase, finishing unbeaten and top of the group which earned us a semi-final berth and a shot at the title. We lost in the final against a great team: they’re far stronger than us both individually and collectively. That gives us extra motivation to hit our best form in time for the World Cup and to be in with a chance.”
Chile’s achievements marked the continued and rapid rise of the women’s game in the country, which was virtually off the radar even as recently as late 2007. The hosting of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2008 helped kick-start a solid development project, one which has taken very little time to start bearing fruit.
Venezuela make history
Venezuela’s progress has been arguably even more dramatic. The Vinotinto youngsters are now set to become the nation’s first women’s side to take part in a FIFA global showpiece, only the country’s second ever FIFA finals after the men’s U-20 squad travelled to Egypt 2009.
After finishing second in Group B at this year’s Sudamericano, Venezuela bounced back from their semi-final defeat by Brazil to defeat Paraguay thanks to Joemar Guarecuco’s solitary strike. “We’re incredibly happy," said Vinotinto strategist Kenneth Zseremeta.
"After we scored the opening goal, I tried to make the team a bit more compact because I knew Paraguay would start knocking balls into the box. I put my faith in our counter-attacking ability and we very nearly scored a second goal.”
Paraguay and Colombia, who finished third and first respectively in 2008 to qualify for that year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, missed out on a second successive appearance on the world stage. Las Guaraníes were denied by Venezuela, while holders Las Cafeteras failed even to emerge from Group B.