Holders Japan enter the fray on day two of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, but their opening match against Ghana is by no means a foregone conclusion. The winners from 2008, Korea DPR face England, while the beaten finalists from that tournament, USA take on Paraguay. The opening round of games also sees two evenly matched sides in Nigeria and Brazil cross swords. FIFA.com previews the action.
Match of the day
Nigeria-Brazil, Amman, 1 October (16.00 local time)
Picking a favourite in this Group C opener is no easy task. Nigeria have never failed to qualify for the U-17 Women’s World Cup, although they are likewise yet to advance beyond the quarter-final stage. Two years ago in Costa Rica, they won all three group matches only to be eliminated by Spain, but after a perfect qualifying campaign – four games, four wins and four clean sheets – the Flamingoes are well prepared to make history this time around in Jordan.
Despite not reaching the tournament two years ago, few would bet against Brazil being among the sides likely to go far in this tournament. As is the case with most Brazilian teams, their strength lies in attack, and they scored an impressive 15 goals in six matches in qualifying.
The other matches
Group C’s other game is a repeat of the 2008 semi-final between England and Korea DPR. The Asian side prevailed back then before going on to lift the trophy, appearing at every U1-7 World Cup since and reaching the final in 2012. England, by contrast, are making their first appearance at the tournament since reaching the last four eight years ago.
In Group D, holders Japan will look to make their mark early on in the tournament when they take on Ghana, although whether they can perform as impressively as two years ago – they conceded just one goal on the way to becoming champions – remains to be seen. This will be a stern test for the Ghanaians, but they need show no fear. Like neighbours Nigeria, the Black Queens boast considerable pedigree having also appeared at every World Cup, and they won the bronze medal in 2012 after finishing third, beating Japan in the last eight along the way.
The second game in Group D sees the USA, one of the women’s game’s major powers, take on Paraguay. The Americans surprisingly missed out on qualifying in 2014, but that disappointment will be exactly the motivation they need as they seek to announce their return to the world stage with a bang. Paraguay, meanwhile, are clear underdogs. They have never progressed from the group stages and two years ago they exited without a single point to their name.
Player to watch
Fuka Nagano (Japan)
The 17-year-old is her team’s captain and can already call herself a U-17 World Cup winner after participating in Japan’s triumph in 2014. She was not merely a squad member, however: despite being just 15, she was one of the first names on the team sheet, starting five of six matches and scoring against Venezuela in the semi-finals. Expect big things of Japan’s No10 once again.
50 – Japan have accumulated a whopping 50 points in 20 matches at the four U-17 Women’s World Cups at which the Little Nadeshiko have participated. That is an average of 2.5 points per game, more than any other country. Second on that list is Korea DPR (39), with Germany (33) third.
“Physically and tactically we’re in good shape. The commitment of every single player in training is really impressive. We all have the same goal of hitting our best form and hopefully becoming world champions. It’s my dream and the dream of all my team-mates to lift that trophy.”
Natasha Martinez (Paraguay goalkeeper)
Nigeria-Brazil, 16.00 (King Abdullah II International Stadium, Amman)
England-Korea DPR, 19.00 (King Abdullah II International Stadium, Amman)
Ghana-Japan, 16.00 (Prince Mohammed International Stadium, Al Zarqa)
USA-Paraguay, 19.00 (Prince Mohammed International Stadium, Al Zarqa)
All times local