In Group A, only Australia came through the first round of matches with a win under their belts and three points on the board. The Young Matildas are followed in the table by Russia and Brazil, who fought out a goalless draw, while New Zealand are anchored to the foot of the section without a point to their name.
Australia got off to an impressive start in the first match, soundly beating New Zealand 3-0. Although the Kiwis started the stronger, a brace from Collette McCallum put Australia in command and victory was sealed by a goal from captain Sally Shipard. "We are very happy to get the tournament going with a win, because a good start is very important," said team manager Alistair Edwards after the match.
Brazil, for their part, totally outplayed the tournament hosts in the first 20 minutes of their match, but then became bogged down in a long-ball game that was plainly ill-suited to their style of play. "We all know that Brazil know how to play football, but I saw nothing that causes me concern," declared Australia's McCallum after watching the match.
Brazil and Australia met in the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA U19 Women's World Championships in Canada and treated the crowd to a real feast of football. At half-time, the South Americans held a 3-1 advantage but allowed their opponents to draw level. Fortune failed to favour the Australians, though, and the Auriverdes went through on the 'Golden Goal', Daniela finding the net in the 10th minute of extra time.
Aussie striker Sasha McDonnell fancies the Young Matildas' chances of claiming revenge for that defeat, but appreciates the enormity of their task: "We have two tough matches to go, but if we play like we did in the first game, we will only get better. I have no doubt we will progress."
The Brazilians, though, who have finished fourth for the last two championships, will hope for better from their highly-rated captain Renata Costa, who failed to hit her stride against the Russians. "The player has great potential, but we did not see her best today," admitted coach Jorge Barcelos. "I hope we get a glimpse of what she is capable of in the next match."
While the tournament hosts appeared shaky in defence, they did play some decent football and deserved their draw with a team who were superior in technique and pace. However, Valentin Grishin has some selection difficulties to contend with. Midfielders Olga Petrova and Nadezhda Kharchenko picked up injuries and, with sweeper Oxana Titova not at full strength, it was no surprise that forward Elena Danilova was often left isolated and starved of service during the Brazil match.
Grishin is all too aware of the problem: "The midfield line, who were supposed to feed Danilova, simply failed to do their job. They gave her barely any support and, once she had the ball, there were three or four players around her straight away."
New Zealand, meanwhile, were undeserving of such a heavy defeat to Australia. The Kiwis put in a plucky performance and could have come away with a better scoreline had they put away the chances which came their way. In the end, it was Aroon Clansey's unfortunate goalkeeping errors that went a long way to deciding fate of John Herdman's team, with the coach reflecting afterwards, "I feel for our goalkeeper," adding that the game had been "a good lesson" for his side.
Only a win will satisfy Russia, with a draw, not to mention a defeat, sure to place a large question mark over their chances of progressing on home turf. However, if 10,000 fans come to the Petrovsky Stadium to get behind their team as they did on the first day of the competition, their support could help carry the hosts on to a much-needed victory.