Football fever gripping Chile

Twenty-one years after Chile hosted the FIFA World Youth Championship, a tournament memorably won by Yugoslavia and their stars Zvonimir Boban, Davor Suker and Predrag Mijatovic, the country is once again playing host to the best of world football.

This time, however, it is the turn of the ladies to gather in the Andean nation. Following on from the success of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cups in Canada, Thailand and Russia, Chile is hosting the fourth edition of the competition - and in some style. With the support of the general public, the organisers have ensured that the infranstructure in place for the event will be exemplary, with the stadiums in the four Host Cities of Temuco, Chillan, Santiago (La Florida) and Coquimbo all undergoing major reconstruction work.

The Chilean president, Michele Bachelet, one of the biggest advocates of the tournament, declared herself very satisfied with all the hard work: "I'm proud of our country for having taken on such a great challenge, and also proud of our national team. As Chilean women, I'm sure they'll give their all, and show tenacity and sportsmanship every time they take to the field to defend our colours. I believe they will be remembered for that."

History shows the way
Las Rojitas have unquestionably caught the public's imagination, and the passion stoked by the tournament has been reflected in brisk ticket sales. And while this will be the first time a Chilean women's team have appeared at a FIFA finals, the hosts can take some encouragement from history as they look to impress: at both the FIFA World Youth Championship Chile 1987 and the 1962 FIFA World Cup Chile™, their male counterparts reached the semi-finals. Will the women be able to maintain such lofty standards this time out?

Even more is expected of Korea DPR, who will be looking to defend the crown the won in Russia two years ago. One thing they will not be lacking is motivation, having just seen their U-17 counterparts seize gold at the inauguaral FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.

Another team with a point to prove will be China PR. After finishing runners-up at Russia 2006 and Thailand 2004, the Steel Rosebuds will be hoping there is truth in the 'third time lucky' maxim. Not dissimilar will be the task facing Brazil, who have made it to the last four in every edition of the tournament but never gone any further. Can they go a step further this time and improve on the bronze medal they picked up in Moscow?

Nor should Norway be discounted. Despite being one of the most powerful women's teams at senior level - they have picked up two Olympic bronze medals (1996 and 2000) and a world title (1995) - this will be their maiden appearance at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.

Of course, USA, Germany, Canada and Nigeria, the only other teams alongside Brazil to have played in every edition of the event, will also have a say in the destination of the trophy.

When the big event kicks off this Wednesday, will again be the best place to follow all the action. We will have exclusive interviews, match reports, video highlights and all the other tournament details, so make sure you do not miss out.