It would take a brave pundit to pick a winner from a very tough-looking Group D at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2010. Brazil will definitely start as favourites, having swept all before them in South American qualifying, but the Auriverde will have to be on their guard against reigning CONCACAF champions Canada, who eliminated no less a team than the USA in their preliminary competition.
The Republic of Ireland may be making their debut at this level but they too can be classed as heavyweights, having reached the final of the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship. Ghana meanwhile have built up quite a reputation over the years, making this an incredibly tight group on paper.
The road to T&T
Republic of Ireland: Things were certainly not plain sailing as the country bid to qualify for their first ever FIFA women’s competition. The road was long from the Emerald Isle to the Caribbean, but coach Noel King’s charges made it in the end, getting through two qualifying groups – the latter in Ukraine – then defeating Germany 1-0 in the UEFA semi-final. The final proved to be a bridge too far when they lost on penalties after a goalless draw with Spain, but the win over Germany was enough to book their place in Trinidad and Tobago.
Brazil: Six matches, six wins, 41 goals scored, three conceded - Brazil certainly straddled the South American qualifying campaign like a colossus. They even managed to finish on the highest possible note with a 7-0 thrashing of Chile in the final. Results like these will have restored confidence to a team that was knocked out in the group phase at New Zealand 2008, and they will definitely be looking to go a lot farther this time around.
Canada: One solitary defeat and three wins, one of which came against their big continental rivals the United States in the semi-final, were enough to see Canada emerge as CONCACAF champions. The Canucks made it as far as the quarter-finals at New Zealand 2008, and they will be even hungrier for success in Trinidad and Tobago.
Ghana: The team made short work of Tunisia when it came to securing one of the three African berths for the tournament, winning the home leg 7-0 in Accra and the return 4-0 in Tunis. Trinidad and Tobago 2010 will be Ghana’s second appearance at this FIFA tournament.
The big match
Brazil - Canada
The group stage of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2010 will finish with a bang on 13 September, when South American champions Brazil take on CONCACAF winners Canada. The two teams may have contrasting styles, but their respective reputations precede them, and this match will no doubt prove a worthy end-of-group showdown.
Did you know?
Ghana’s Ellen Coleman and Margaret Otoo were in their country’s squad for New Zealand 2008 and are about to take part in their second FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Remarkably, Coleman was just 12 years old when she played for the Black Maidens two years ago.