THE DAY REPLAYED – The second day of quarter-final action at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010 kicked off with Spain securing their place in the semi-finals of the tournament. Displaying great teamwork and industry, their aerial game was too much for the individual talents of Brazil to handle at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Las Rojitas’ 2-1 victory not only led to the exit of the final South American representative from the competition, but also kept alive their hopes of becoming the first women's team to hold the European and world titles simultaneously at U-17 level. Could they be set to follow in the footsteps of their senior male compatriots?
In Friday’s other last-eight encounter, Japan continued the impressive run that Asian teams are enjoying in the Caribbean. Following Korea DPR’s 1-0 win over Germany and Korea Republic’s 6-5 victory versus Nigeria on Thursday, Japan become the third side from the continent to make it through to the semi-finals. Republic of Ireland proved tricky opponents, but were undone by a Nadeshiko team that displayed qualities usually applied to Noel King’s much-improved side, such as controlled aggression, a remarkable fighting spirit and an ability to take chances. After having gone ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, the Japanese let the Irish back into it shortly after the break. It took yet another superb strike from Kumi Yokoyama to put the Asians back in front, sealing victory at Arima’s Larry Gomes Stadium in the process.
Goal of the day
Republic of Ireland 1-2 Japan, Kumi Yokoyama 66
In the run-up to the quarter-finals, Kumi Yokoyama told FIFA.com about how much she disliked “chasing long balls." A few days later, it was that exact activity that led to her stunning winning goal in the 66th minute. Japan goalkeeper Eri Hirao sent a powerful punt downfield in the direction of her predatory team-mate, who controlled it first time, skipped past Ciara O’Brien and let fly from the edge of the box with a tremendous shot that ended up in the top right-hand corner of Grace Moloney’s net.
Spain’s success against Brazil owes much to the work achieved down both wings. While their opponents constantly looked to get the ball to Beatriz through the middle, the European champions invariably preferred to spread the play out wide to Alexia Putellas on the left and Nagore Calderon on the right. The duo were involved in almost every Spanish attack, and Putellas set up both goals, the second of which was put away by her fellow winger Calderon
Hiroa happy after hiccup
Eri Hirao had a topsy-turvy quarter-final day, but came out with a smile on her face in the end. Japan’s captain and goalkeeper was partially at fault for Ireland’s equaliser, following a mix-up with her defender, Hikari Tagaki. But the determined Asian made up for it in the best way possible, first with an assist for Kumi Yokoyama’s goal, then with a match-winning point-blank save from Stacie Donnelly eight minutes from the end.
3 – The number of Asian representatives present at the semi-final stage of Trinidad and Tobago 2010. In defeating Ireland, Japan joined Korea DPR and Korea Republic – victors the day before – in the last four. It is worth noting that this is the first time that three teams from Asia have qualified for the semi-finals of a FIFA-administered tournament.
What they said
“Some of my players took too long to get a feel for the match. We could have changed things around, but we simply missed too many chances, really. Overall, I’m still very proud of them. They lost to a fine team, after all, and I’m positive that a great future awaits them all.” Edvaldo Erlacher, Brazil coach.