Mexico’s fortunes at recent editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup have been closely linked to the development of their talismanic striker Charlyn Corral. Here at Germany 2010, Las Aztecas have made history by qualifying for the quarter-finals of this tournament for the first time in four attempts – and Corral has been a key component in that achievement.
"I’m so happy for the team," the player told FIFA.com. "In previous editions we’ve always gone home disappointed after failing to reach the knockout phase, so making it through this time has been really thrilling. I think we deserve to be where we are and have set our sights even higher. I firmly believe we’re capable of going even further at Germany 2010."
Experience belying her age
Though still only 18, Corral is a genuine veteran of women’s youth football, having appeared at no fewer than three FIFA U-20 World Cups. The ITESM Monterrey striker made her tournament debut at the 2006 edition in Russia and showed her goalscoring prowess from the start, netting twice on her debut against Switzerland to help her compatriots to their first ever win (4-2) at the event.
The following edition in Chile two years later was one to forget for El Tri, although Corral did record her side’s only goal of that campaign. Here in Germany, however, the North Americans – and Corral – are back with a vengeance.
"I have a lot of confidence in this team," she added. "We have a mix of older players, like me, and others who are newer to the national team. That blend has enabled us to form a strong group, forge a good understanding and consequently make the knockout rounds. I know my team-mates are always backing me up out there. If I can’t get forward, I know that one of them will be there to help me and push up," she says by way of explaining her side’s progress at this tournament.
El Tri are unbeaten so far in Germany, having drawn 3-3 with Japan, 1-1 against Nigeria and edged a hard-fought 1-0 win over England. This five-point haul allowed Roberto Medina’s charges to top Group C, with Corral weighing in with a goal against the Japanese to make her Mexico’s all-time leading scorer at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Next up for them is a meeting with Korea Republic on Sunday in Dresden, where a place in the last four will be up for grabs. "Facing Japan [at the group stage] was a good thing in that it gave us a chance to get to know Asian football.
"The Koreans link up very quickly and mostly keep the ball on the ground. They also have great pace going forward. That said, we’re ready to take on anybody," Corral concluded, and if Mexico can display the same kind of confidence and self-belief come Sunday, who is to say just how far they can go?