In a hotly contested, all-North American Final with hosts Canada it was the pre-tournament favourites USA who broke the hearts of their brave northern neighbours and 47,784 screaming fans in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. A stunning golden-goal from American skipper Lindsay Tarpley was the only difference between the two sides in a nerve-wracking Final. Although Canada's dream had been destroyed, few heads hung low as the hosts' sparkling run through the competition captured the collective imagination of an entire nation and drew much-deserved attention to the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship.
The side from the States were deservedly queens on the day. Their organisation and overwhelming efficiency blended in well with individual starlets like Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly. In a magnificent run of form, the US ripped little Arsenal lass Ellen Maggs and her English associates to shreds (5-1), hopped all over the brave Aussies (4-0) and dismantled luckless Chinese Taipei (6-0). In light of their pulsating start, no one was particularly surprised when the US team demolished poor Denmark in the quarter-final (6-0) and a tough, determined German eleven in the Semis (4-1) before squeezing past the hosts in the Final.
Although no one really knew exactly what to expect, the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship still managed to produce a number of surprises. Canada, coached by FIFA World Cup veteran Ian Bridge, proved an irresistible force on their run to the final. Led by the marvellous approach work of 15-year-old prodigy Kara Lang and Carmelina Moscato as well as the goal-spree from markswoman supreme Christine Sinclair, the Canadians forced a whole nation to sit up and take notice. After a jittery performance in a tight 3-2 opener with the Danes, Sinclair's astounding ten goals in five matches catapulted the young team to the Final.
Japan also overcame a shaky start to reach the quarter-final stage. The Asian side's cohesive brand of tactical football was an organized delight, sometimes even mesmerising. England reached the quarter-finals too, helped in no small measure by the diminutive Arsenal striker Ellen Maggs. Her skill, pace and creativity were a constant wonder.
Brazil were the true entertainers of the tournament with their number-10 Marta strutting her stuff with verve and aplomb. But the South Americans could not quite master the Canadians and cruelly fell to penalties in the semis. Germany, tough and determined, boasted one of the tournament's shining stars in Linda Bresonik.
Player of the tournament:
Canada's clinical finisher Christine Sinclair ran miles ahead of the pack to pocket both the adidas Golden Shoe for most goals in the tournament (10) and adidas Golden Ball honours as most valuable player. Size, speed and a killer's instinct in front of goal all combined to produce an insatiable Canadian goal-scoring machine. Linking up well with elegant playmaker Carmelina Moscato throughout the tournament, Sinclair's five goals against England in Canada's quarter-final had the competition gasping for air.
Kelly Wilson (USA) Lindsay Tarplay (USA) Heather O'Reilly (USA) Jill Oakes (USA) Christine Sinclair (CAN) Carmelina Moscato (CAN) Erin McLeod (CAN), Candace Chapman (CAN) Miho Fukumoto (JPN) Daiane (BRA), Daniela (BRA), Marta (BRA), Jessica Wright (ENG), Linda Bresonik (GER), Ifeanyi Chiejine (NGA), Johanna Rasmussen (DEN),
Canada 2002 stats:
101 (3.88 per match)
USA, 26 goals
Top 3 goalscorers:
Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton
The United States were simply irresistible. The American women notched no less than 26 goals in six matches, conceding just two.