Germany sent a stern message to the other combatants at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with an astonishing run through Group B in Trinidad and Tobago. With three huge wins from their three games, they had the strongest attack at the finals and became very much favourites for the title. Korea Republic, with their stylish and cohesive passing game, joined the Germans in the quarter-finals, winning a pair against the always outmatched Mexico and South Africa, who both had tournaments to forget.
Germany were simply unstoppable in Group B, played primarily in the island paradise of Tobago. Scoring 22 goals in their three wins in the Group, the European powers were a cut above with the likes of Kyra Malinowski, Lena Petermann and Lena Lotzen causing havoc running riot. Korea Republic were a solid unit throughout their section games, but even they couldn’t get to grips with Germany’s attack, losing out 3-0 in their final contest after making short work of both Mexico and South Africa. The Asians were thanking their outstanding goalkeeper Kim Minah for her good work and also ace striker Yeo Min Ji, who scored three goals in three matches after beginning the tournament on the bench.
Mexican joy, finally
After two games in which they were very much second-best, losing first to Germany and then to the Koreans, Mexico’s talented but disorganised representatives shed bitter tears on the pitch of the Dwight Yorke Stadium. Heading into their final matchday in Couva, they were playing only for pride against fellow strugglers South Africa. The CONCACAF side, to their credit, managed to find a way past their grief and put Bantwana to the sword 4-0. They celebrated each goal with pride in the shirt and the passion of youth.
South African rhythms
Even though the debutant South Africans had a tournament to forget, losing all three games and conceding a huge number of goals, their spirit – and occasionally their football – were irresistible. Their best player by far was brawny striker Jermaine Seoposenwe, who scored both of the Republic’s goals. After hitting the net with her first against the Koreans, she convened her teammates near the corner flag and danced the same celebratory dance Siphiwe Tshabalala did with his Bafana Bafana mates after opening the scoring at June’s FIFA World Cup™. Coach Solomon Luvhengo – who admits to “loving to dance,” must have been secretly pleased with his carefree charges.
16 - the number of goals scored in the group stage by the German attacking trio of Petermann, Malinowski and Lotzen. It’s nothing short of a massive haul, and the vast majority of the Europeans’ 22 goals in the group stage, a record in the history of the Women’s U-17 finals. South Africa, on the other hand, set an unwanted record as they conceded 17 goals in their three games, one worse than Paraguay at New Zealand 2008.
“I was not completely happy with the way we played. I think we will need to improve and there are big things to be worried about,” perhaps German coach Ralf Peter was a little too critical after his side destroyed Mexico 9-0 and then South Africa by a tournament-record 10-1.