THE DAY REPLAYED – The remaining eight teams made their debut at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica, with several teams make an authoritative statement while others endured a harsh opening. Japan rocked European runners-up Spain with a classy 2-0 victory leaving the Little Nadeshiko early leaders in Group C, while New Zealand and Paraguay shared a goal apiece under the blazing Tibas sun.
Meanwhile, Mexico played with verve and style to put four unanswered goals past Colombia and take top spot on Group D on goal difference. Nigeria and China PR rounded out the day with a high-intensity encounter that eventually went the way of the Africans.
Music makes the world go around
There was more than just a modest musical theme on the opening day of action in Alajuela. While Mexico were clear winners on the pitch the victor in the battle for musical bragging rights was less clear. Pre-match the Mexicans were listening to the inspirational song of Argentinian singer Diego Torres ‘Colour Esperanza’ (colour hope) which include the appropriate line about "painting your face green like hope". There is no doubt the green shirts were inspired given their three-goal salvo inside the opening quarter-hour. The Colombians, meanwhile, delivered a positively fearsome gee-up pre-match chant including the line ‘the jersey with no heart is just a piece of cloth’.
Good things come to those that wait
It has been six years and six matches since New Zealand avoided defeat in the U-17 Women’s World Cup when they achieved a 3-1 win over Colombia on home soil in the first-ever edition of the global tournament. That run, however, has now thankfully been consigned to the history books. Daisy Cleverley’s goal seemed set to have New Zealand on the path to victory, only for the Paraguayans to conjure a late equaliser. The tournament record may still remain in possession of the Young Football Ferns, but at least the Kiwis are on their way up.
Living on a prayer
Sunday of course, is a holy day in many nations and for Paraguay their inspiration came from prayer rather than singing, as was favoured by their South American neighbours Colombia. The Paraguayans assembled a small altar in their dressing room featuring several Saints, including Virgen de Caacupé, the Patron saint of Paraguay. With defeat seemingly imminent, Paraguay prayers were eventually answered as Sheryl Barrios conjured an equaliser six minutes from time.
50 – The number of seconds it took Mexico to find the net against Colombia, to set them on course for an impressive 4-0 opening win. It was the second fastest goal scored at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup following on from Nigeria’s Soo Adekwagh who struck after just 22 seconds against Korea Republic during New Zealand 2008.
“The girls are only 15 or 16 and anxiety and nerves got the better of them. Even so, we tried to play the right way,” Fabian Taborda, Colombia coach.
Tuesday 18 March 2014 (local time)
Group A (San Jose)
Costa Rica-Italy, 20:00
Group B (Liberia)
Korea DPR-Canada, 20:00