The last day of quarter-final action at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago pits the champions of Europe against South America’s finest in Couva. The other contest in Arima is an enticing clash of styles between the hard-grafting Irish and the creative Japanese.
Match of the day
Spain-Brazil, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, 16.00
The contest between the champions of Europe and South America is likely to be an explosive one. The Spaniards have been riding the fine passing play of Paloma Lazaro, captain Amanda Sampedro and their starlet Sara Merida, and made easy meat of their Group C, amassing a perfect nine points from three games in which they scored nine goals and conceded only three.
Spanish goalkeeper Dolores Gallardo, who has been outstanding so far at these finals, is going to have her hands full on Friday, in what will be the Iberians’ toughest test yet. Although the Brazilians – who scored more than 40 goals in qualifying – have yet to find a measure of consistency, they have looked dangerous all the time. With their loss to Ghana looking something of an anomaly, Brazilian coach Edvaldo Erlacher will be relying on two of the tournament’s true gems in captain Thais and free-roving, inspired attacker Glaucia to get the job done against Las Rojitas.
The other match
The Irish have become the darlings of the tournament. Playing in their first FIFA Women’s World Cup at any age level, Noel King’s charming charges have been pressurizing their opponents and shooting from distance. Their approach was enough to earn them top spot in the so-called ‘group of death,’ and now they face a serious clash of styles when they take on the stylish, short-passing East Asians. “We didn’t think we’d win a game here,” said Megan Campbell, who scored in the 3-0 rout of Ghana. “We just need to keep getting better.”
The Japanese, for their part, overcame a disappointing loss in their opener with Spain and haven’t looked back. Scoring bags of goals in their last two outings, their rotating attack – comprised of Haruna Kawashima, Mai Kyokawa, Chika Kato and Kumi Yokoyama – is looking as effective and entertaining as any at these finals.
6 – Japan have scored six goals in each of their last two matches, that’s a goal every 15 minutes or so over the space of 180 minutes of smashing, free-flowing football. “We don’t like to kick the ball long and chase after it; it’s not fun,” Kumi Yokoyama told FIFA.com. “When we play our style and have fun, the goals come easily.”
What they said
“I think we have finally achieved the level that we showed in the South American qualifying tournament. We had some very tough matches early on here in T&T and that shows that the U-17 level is improving very much. Spain will be a very difficult opponent for us, but we are ready to find our way to victory.” Brazil coach Erlacher