Seven of the eight sides in action on the final matchday in Groups A and B at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012 are still in with a chance of making the quarter-finals. The odd team out are Switzerland, who will have nothing but pride to play for when they take on the host nation on Sunday.
Group B is the tighter of the two, with all four sides in contention, though bottom-placed Italy need to win and hope the result in the other game in the section goes their way.
Match of the day
Korea Republic-Brazil, Sunday 26 August, 16.20 (local time)
Still without a win, Brazil are nevertheless unbeaten, having snatched dramatic late draws against both Italy and Nigeria. A repeat in this game will be fatal for Caio Couto’s charges, who have no option but to win if they are to progress.
Their South Korean opponents atoned for an opening-day reverse at the hands of Nigeria by seeing off the Italians, quickly rediscovering their eye for goal. A win will take the Asians through, although a draw may be enough, depending on the result of the other game.
Switzerland are already out of the running following back-to-back losses to New Zealand and Mexico. Their only incentive in their final game against Japan is to secure their first ever points in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, while the Young Nadeshiko will be out to avoid the kind of shock they received in going 2-0 down to the Kiwis in their last outing, which ended with honours even.
The New Zealanders hold the advantage going into their make-or-break match with the Mexicans and need just a point to make sure of a place in the last eight. A draw would only suit Las Aztecas in the event that Japan lose to the Swiss. Given the fact that seems unlikely to happen, the Mexicans will be doing all they can to win.
While Brazil and Korea Republic do battle in Tokyo, Group B leaders Nigeria will look to seal their qualification against an Italy side that has collected more red cards (three, including one for coach Corrado Corradini) than points and goals scored (one each). Even if they beat the Africans, the Azzurrine could still go out on goal difference.
Players to watch
The match between Brazil and Korea Republic will feature an intriguing duel between two players of whom much is expected. Brazil star Thais Guedes is still to find the back of the net in Japan, though not for the want of trying, while the similarly goalless Yeo Minji has been prevented by injury from showing what she can do. Should either player hit form on Sunday, it could be enough to take their side into the next round.
8 - The number of consecutive defeats Switzerland have suffered in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, a run that includes their two losses at Japan 2012. The Swiss face the hosts on Sunday knowing that they will be going home regardless of whether they end that sequence or not.
“I think my team has come on. The girls are more relaxed and more sure of themselves, and having beaten Switzerland I hope we can reach the level we need to stay alive in this competition,” Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar.
The schedule (all times local)
Mexico-New Zealand, Kobe, 19:20
Switzerland-Japan, Tokyo, 19:20
Italy-Nigeria, Kobe, 16:20
Korea Republic-Brazil, Tokyo, 16:20