Played out over 18 days in the Uruguayan cities of Montevideo and Fray Bentos, the sixth South American U-20 Women’s Championship produced an enthralling tussle for the two qualifying slots for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014.
That tussle was decided with one round of games remaining in the competition as Brazil and Paraguay claimed the two berths. All that remained to be decided on the final day was which of the two qualifiers would take the CONMEBOL title. Unsurprisingly, given their flawless record in the competition, it was A Verdeamerela who took the spoils, defeating the Paraguayans 2-0 to win the tournament for the sixth time running since its inception.
A familiar tale
The five-time defending champions dominated proceedings from the off in Group A, where they were drawn alongside Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela. Opening up with a 2-0 defeat of the Chileans, they then defeated Uruguay 8-1, a sign that they had no intention of releasing their vice-like grip on the title, though their 100 per cent record was spoiled when Colombia held them to a goalless draw. Top spot and a place in the final four was theirs, however, Venezuela made things difficult in the their last group game with the Brazilians winning 3-2.
A Canarinha were joined in the final round by the Colombians, who might not have matched Brazil’s brilliance but impressed all the same in beating Uruguay and Venezuela and reprising their performance against the reigning champions by sharing the points with Chile in another goalless stalemate.
There was a similar tale of domination in Group B, where Paraguay came out on top in a section that also featured Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Las Guaraníes posted a deserved 2-0 win over Peru in their first match, held Argentina to a goalless draw in their second and got back to winning ways by disposing of Ecuador 3-1 and Bolivia 4-0.
Despite that heavy defeat, La Verde joined the Paraguayans in the final phase courtesy of narrow 1-0 wins over Ecuador and Argentina and a 2-1 victory against Peru.
No shortage of quality
The two section winners maintained their impressive form when the final four-team phase got under way. Brazil set the tone by beating Bolivia 3-0, though La Verde more than held their own at the start of what was an entertaining game and only ran out of steam in the closing ten minutes, when the Brazilians struck twice to put a different complexion on the scoreline.
Paraguay picked up three points of their own by downing Colombia 1-0. Lorena Alonso scored the only goal of the game to leave her side level on points with Brazil, with Las Cafeteras and La Verde having much to do if they were to reach Canada.
Needing a win apiece in their second games to reach the world finals, the two frontrunners duly got what they were looking for. Brazil showed the Colombians no mercy in their meeting in Fray Bentos, moving ahead after just five minutes through the tournament’s top scorer Andressa, who went on to complete a hat-trick in a resounding 6-0 victory.
Paraguay kept pace thanks in the main to the finishing of Jessica Martinez, who scored twice as they saw off the Bolivians to book their place at Canada 2014 with the Brazilians.
Six out of six
With world finals qualification out of the way, Brazil and Paraguay then fought it out for the continental title on the final day, with Las Guaraníes intent on bringing an end to the Brazilians’ unbroken domination of the competition.
The insatiable Andressa had other ideas, however, and put the holders ahead after 35 minutes, with the score remaining that way until half-time despite some concerted Paraguayan pressure.
The match was effectively settled three minutes after the break, when Ludmila popped up to double Brazil’s advantage and ultimately seal their sixth consecutive South American U-20 Women’s Championship triumph.