Four years after the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, and just two days after the Final of the 2010 edition in South Africa, one of Europe’s footballing hotbeds is again preparing to stage a prestigious international tournament.
Following in the footsteps of Canada, Thailand, Russia and Chile, Germany is set to host the fifth edition of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Between 13 July and 1 August, the world’s best young female footballers will be in action in Bielefeld, Augsburg, Bochum and Dresden as 16 nations compete for the coveted global title.
Springboard to success
This is the fourth official FIFA tournament to take place in Germany, which also staged the 1974 and 2006 FIFA World Cups as well as the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. The host nation can look forward to massive support from the home fans, with the Opening Match against Costa Rica in Bochum set to take place in front of a full house. Although the stadium’s official capacity for the tournament is 19,200, as a result of huge demand for tickets an extra standing area has been added which brings the total to 22,000.
The home team are taking part in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for the fifth time, and have already accumulated an impressive track record by winning the 2004 tournament in Thailand and taking third place in Canada in 2002 and Chile in 2008. Germany’s only failure to reach the podium came at Russia 2006, when they went out after a 4-1 quarter-final defeat by fellow women’s football powerhouses the USA.
So, can this year’s hosts add their names to the trophy for a second time? “Our first target is to get through the group stage, but we want to go all the way,” coach Maren Meinert told FIFA.com following the draw for the tournament in April. “As the home team, our support from the fans will give us a good chance of becoming world champions. It seems a good omen that we will play Costa Rica in the Opening Match - just as the senior men’s side did in 2006.”
Holders out to defend their crown
Meanwhile, USA go to Germany as reigning champions and they too have an impressive record over the relatively short history of the competition. The Stars and Stripes won the inaugural edition with an extra-time victory over hosts Canada in the final and have not been out of the top four since, finishing third in Thailand six years ago and fourth in Russia in 2006.
“I wouldn’t exactly say we are banking on defending our title, but we will certainly do all we can we win it again,” coach Jillian Ellis told FIFA.com.
Also among the favoured contenders are England and France, who contested the final of the UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship last month. It was the French youngsters who emerged 2-1 winners over the Young Lionesses, the team that had beaten Sweden to claim the previous year’s edition of the showpiece event.
Nor should the Brazilians be ruled out, having reached the semi-finals in 2002, 2004 and 2006 although they have never gone on to lift the trophy. And finally, many people’s dark horses will be Korea DPR, who followed up victory at Russia 2006 by reaching the final at Chile 2008, where they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by the United States.
The participants at a glance:
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