Group C: Too close to call
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Group C of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010 stands out as arguably the most even of the four pools, with no one team a clear favourite. The make-up of the group, which includes three continental champions in the form of England, Nigeria and Japan, as well as Mexico, a regular at this level of women’s football, should make it one to watch.

While women’s football has well and truly taken off in England and Japan over the last few years, Nigeria and Mexico have experience on their side, with seven previous appearances at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup between them. Both the Japanese and the English reached the quarter-finals at Chile 2008, and a lesser achievement this time around would certainly be viewed as failure by their respective coaches, Mo Marley and Norio Sasaki.

Nigeria have been unable to overcome the quarter-final hurdle at the last three tournaments (in 2004, 2006 and 2008), but will be hoping that their fourth attempt will be the lucky one. With the pressure firmly on their three rivals, could Mexico, a side that has never made it past the group stage, gatecrash the party?

The teams in Group C

The matches (all kick-offs local time)
England-Nigeria, Augsburg, 14 July, 11.30
Mexico-Japan, Augsburg, 14 July, 14.30
Nigeria-Japan, Augsburg, 17 July, 15.00
England-Mexico, Augsburg, 17 July, 18.00
Japan-England, Bielefeld, 21 July, 15.00
Nigeria-Mexico, Bochum, 21 July, 15.00

How they qualified
England: Winners of the UEFA European U-19 Women’s Championship 2009
Nigeria: Secured one of two available African qualifying berths in February 2010
Mexico: Finished second in the CONCACAF qualifying competition in January 2010
Japan: Winners of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2009

The location
The new Augsburg Arena will provide the stage for the majority of Group C matches. Boasting a capacity of 22,216, the former Rosenaustadion was rebuilt in 2009 in time for this year’s U-20 tournament, and will be one of the official venues of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011.

One of the oldest cities in Germany, Augsburg was founded in Roman times as Augusta Vindelicorum. Its 265,000 residents will take time out from supporting their local heroes of FC Augsburg – who narrowly missed out on promotion to the Bundesliga last season – to enjoy a fiesta of female football during the month of July.

The future stars of the women’s game will follow in the footsteps of legendary football figures such as Helmut Haller, Bernd Schuster and Karl-Heinz Riedle, who all turned out for Augsburg in their respective club careers. For the third and final round of matches, teams will relocate to Bielefeld and Bochum, where the outcome of the group will be decided.

The crunch match:
England-Nigeria, Augsburg, 14 July, 11.30
The first fixture in this group throws together two teams with high hopes for the tournament as a whole, with the side that emerges with three points sure to strike a severe blow to a direct rivals' morale. England will aim to impose the high-quality game that has been so successful for them lately, but Nigeria are certainly not to be taken lightly, having come through their qualifying campaign unbeaten.

The opening gambit
“Our three opponents are very strong, and capable of causing us problems. We’ll pick our game plan one match at a time, but our main focus is on improving our standing at international level,” Norio Sasaki, Japan coach.