Brazil underlined their regional hegemony by cruising to another South American U-20 Women’s Championship at the weekend. Winners of all five editions of the tournament to date, A Seleção now qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012, where they will be joined by runners-up Argentina.
FIFA.com brings you the main talking points from the event held between 20 January and 5 February in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.
Another Brazilian masterclass
The performance of this year’s hosts was nigh-on perfect, as they won all seven of their games and scored no fewer than 28 goals. Moreover, their defence was breached just once, and that in an academic group game in which coach Caio Couto had opted to rest most his first-team players. Ketlen and Thais, Brazil's markswomen in the 2-0 defeat of Argentina that secured them the title, were the tournament’s top two scorers, with nine and seven goals respectively.
Couto said: “Our primary objective was to qualify for the World Cup, but naturally we also wanted to maintain our tradition of winning this tournament, which is a significant achievement for everyone involved. These youngsters made their own bit of history and ensured the trophy stayed here."
The coach was not wrong about his side’s proud record at the event. All told Brazil have now racked up 22 consecutive wins and have not dropped a point at the competition since 2006, when they drew with Paraguay. Furthermore, they are the only South American side to have taken part in every edition of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to date.
Despite missing out on the title after being in contention right up to the final game, Argentina have plenty of reasons to be satisfied. First they survived a do-or-die match against Chile in the initial group phase, prevailing with a stoppage-time goal, before securing a berth at the finals with a second-place finish in the four-team final group. La Albiceleste will be making their third appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup this year after missing out on the previous edition at Germany 2010.
In all, Argentina won four games, drew one and lost two – against Colombia in their opening fixture and against Brazil in their last. One of the keys to their success was having scorers throughout the team, as evidenced by the eight different players who shared out their 15 goals - the second highest tally at the tournament.
Betina Soriano, the event’s third-highest scorer with five goals, refleced: “Though not impossible, we always knew it would difficult to wrest the title from Brazil. For all that, we’re still thrilled to be going to the World Cup, which was always our main objective."
Work in progress
Having arrived in Curitiba with clear designs on a place at the world finals, Colombia came up short in the decisive second group phase. After finishing runners-up to Argentina in their pool, Las Cafeteras started the final phase with back-to-back defeats, putting them out of contention for a top-two finish. Despite that disappointment, the side led by the excellent Yoreli Rincon bowed out with a win over Paraguay to take third place, and they would also pick up the Fair Play award.
Paraguay, by contrast, missed out on a podium finish for the first time since they began competing at the event. Las Albirrojas were mathematically still in with a chance of reaching the finals until the defeat to Colombia, but their emphatic 8-0 reverse to Brazil in the previous game would appear to have exacted a heavy toll. For all that, upcoming players like Noelia Cuevas mean they have reason to hope for a brighter future.
“On balance, this has been a positive experience despite failing to meet our objective," said coach Julio Gomez. "I believe we have a lot of potential to develop."
Brazil (9 points)
Ketlen (9 goals)
Betina Soriano (5)