THE DAY REPLAYED - On the third and final matchday of Groups A and B at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2012, Mexico, Nigeria, Korea Republic and hosts Japan joined defending champions Germany in the last eight.
The Young Nadeshiko celebrated their biggest-ever tournament win against a Swiss side whose hopes of progressing had already been dashed. Inspired by a 16,000-strong crowd, a record attendance in 2012, they hit top form on their first outing in the capital. Elsewhere, Mexico’s victory over New Zealand saw them reach the quarter-finals at their opponent’s expense.
In Group B, the Falconets and the Taeguk Ladies also reached the knockout rounds, having occupied the top two places after Matchday 2. Brazil’s elimination comes as a major surprise, even though they owed their chances of qualifying to two late equalisers against Italy (90+2’) and Nigeria (87’) in their opening games.
Switzerland 0-4 Japan
Mexico 4-0 New Zealand
Italy 0-4 Nigeria
Korea Republic 2-0 Brazil
Goal of the day
Switzerland-Japan, Yoko Tanaka, 1-0, (30’)
After today’s display, Japan’s opponents will be biting their nails whenever Yoko Tanaka steps up to take a free-kick. Half an hour into the match against Switzerland, the midfielder curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner from 25 yards. As if that were not enough, two minutes into the second half she repeated the trick from a similar position, lifting the ball into the net for her fourth goal of the tournament. She is now Japan’s top scorer in FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup history.
Going for victory – without a striker
Italy’s situation before their match against Nigeria was clear: they needed to win by at least two goals to stand any chance of progressing. Coach Corrado Corradini opted for an unorthodox tactic in order to achieve this aim, setting his side up with five defenders and five midfielders, but no recognised striker. They ended up on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat.
Brazil flatter to deceive
Having arrived in Japan with serious designs on lifting the trophy, the South American champions registered two draws and a defeat to fall at the first hurdle. On the bright side for the Brazilians, Caio Couto’s squad contains a clutch of bright talents who cut their teeth at international level at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012.
Goal rush in Kobe
The fans who have pitched up at the Kobe Univer Stadium in the last few days can have no complaints about entertainment levels. The five matches held at the venue have produced 28 goals in total, 18 of them scored in the first half. The only game that failed to yield a goal in the opening 45 minutes was the meeting between Mexico and New Zealand, though Las Aztecas made up for that after the restart by scoring four times without reply to record their biggest win in a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup match.
Party time for Nigeria
Cheered on by a vociferous band of supporters during their emphatic win over Italy in Kobe, the Falconets kept the party atmosphere going during the Mexico-New Zealand match that followed. Huddled around their hat-trick heroine Francisca Ordega, the Nigerian players celebrated their safe passage to the last eight by dancing and singing in the stands.
9 - New Zealand’s Rosie White and Bridgette Armstrong appeared in their ninth FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup match against Mexico, more than any other Kiwi player in the history of the competition, but still some way behind overall record holder Renata Costa of Brazil with 18 appearances and her compatriot Erika with 15.
"I was here for the draw and the city, the country and the people fascinated me. After today's match we went to the Japanese fans in the stadium to say thank you and shook hands with the fans. One spectator wanted to exchange his national football shirt with mine. That's why I have now a Japanese shirt. I play football since I'm five, that’s 37 years, but this was one of the best and most emotional moments which I ever had in my life. Thank you to all the people in Japan. I experienced so many incredible moments here. The team too is impressed how nice all the people are in this country. Japan is now deep in my heart. Thank you."
Switzerland coach Yannick Schwery
Monday 27 August
Norway-Argentina (Miyagi, 19.00)
Canada-Korea DPR (Saitama, 19.00)
USA-Germany (Miyagi, 16.00)
China PR-Ghana (Saitama, 16.00)