With a consistently high level of quality on display, Group D kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout the pool phase of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010. As the only group with all four teams on the 3-point mark going into the third and final match, it would have been difficult to imagine a more suspenseful scenario. In the end, the group would be won by the Republic of Ireland, 3-0 winners over Ghana. Brazil accompanied them into the quarter-finals, defeating CONCACAF champions Canada 2-0, but denied top spot on goal difference.
One of the unwritten rules of football is that in every high-profile competition there is always a pool dubbed ‘the group of death’. At Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Group D stood out above the others in that respect, combining the U-17 champions of North and South America – Canada and Brazil respectively – with the runners-up at the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship (Republic of Ireland) and an experienced Ghana side. It was therefore not hugely surprising to see these four top-level teams all take points off each other during their first two matches.
The group produced some fascinating clashes, due in no small part to the countries’ contrasting styles of play. The Republic of Ireland married great fighting spirit with a fast pressing game, while Brazil leaned on the individual skills of players such as Jucinara, Beatriz or Glaucia. Canada relied heavily on a strong defence, typified by their remarkably competent goalkeeper, Sabrina d’Angelo, and Ghana’s quick, attack-minded style won many admirers. When all was said and done, it was the Irish and Brazilians that emerged triumphant.
Paula and Thais rise and shine
Having respectively scored seven and five of the 41 goals registered by Brazil during South American qualifying, much was expected of forwards Paula and Thais in Trinidad and Tobago. After drawing blanks during their first two matches, they both came to life when the need was greatest, each netting firm, right-footed strikes in A Canarinha’s important 2-0 defeat of Canada.
From the tears of joy shed by Felicia Djabaah to the distress exhibited by Mary Essiful, Ghana experienced an emotional rollercoaster at Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Djabaah could not help herself from crying upon hearing the final whistle of the Black Maidens’ shock 1-0 win over Brazil, while her compatriot Essiful needed to be consoled by her team-mates a few days later, after missing a crucial penalty versus Ireland just before half-time.
1 – While at the time it appeared to signify nothing more than icing on the cake for the Irish, Aileen Gilroy’s 77th minute goal in her team’s resounding 3-0 victory over Ghana would in the end prove to be of vital importance. It enabled Ireland to avoid Spain in the quarter-finals, a side that defeated them a few weeks ago in the final of the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship, and to win Group D by virtue of having scored one more goal than closest rivals Brazil.
What they said
“Technically, tactically and physically, I witnessed a much higher level of football in Trinidad and Tobago than in New Zealand two years ago. I would conclude from that observation that women’s football continues to improve year on year.” Bryan Rosenfeld, Canada coach