Having taken part in four of the five editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to date, Mexico are no strangers to life at this global showpiece. Yet despite their regular attendance record, the CONCACAF outfit have never gone further than the quarter-final stage, though they have shown signs of progress. Indeed, after failing to survive the group phase at Canada 2002, Russia 2006 and Chile 2008, and winning just one match over the course of those three final tournaments, Mexico won their section at Germany 2010 and were only denied a semi-final place by a last-eight defeat to Korea Republic.
Las Aztecas earned their passage to Japan 2012 thanks to claiming a third-place finish at CONCACAF qualifying in March. Enjoying a fast start to the competition with 3-1 and 10-0 victories over Jamaica and Haiti respectively, the Mexicans were deprived of top spot in the group by a 1-0 defeat against Canada. Second place in the section meant a semi-final clash with neighbours USA, who emerged emphatic 4-0 victors to consign Mexico to a play-off for third place against host nation Panama. Swiftly overcoming their humbling by the Stars and Stripes, Las Aztecas grabbed the tournament’s last available ticket to Japan via a comfortable 5-0 success.
"It's a commitment for us that we go [to Japan] with the idea of matching or beating what was achieved two years ago in Germany. We are doing this with a generation that has been part of the transition we are undergoing with the senior team.”
Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar
Facts and figures
Natalia Gomez-Junco, Tanya Samarzich, Nayeli Rangel, Yamile Franco, Mariel Gutierrez
The road to Japan
Mexico won three and lost two of their games in CONCACAF qualifying, scoring 18 and conceding six in the process. Topping the squad’s scorers’ charts was Natalia Gomez-Junco with six strikes, followed by Tanya Samarzich and Yamile Franco with three apiece.
6 – Gomez-Junco’s aforementioned half-dozen strikes in qualifying were enough to ensure she finished as the competition’s leading scorer.