THE DAY REPLAYED – The final round of matches in Groups C and D at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 offered up its share of surprises and memorable moments.
France topped Group D with a convincing 3-0 win over Paraguay, making them the only team in the tournament not to drop a point in the group stages. New Zealand also progressed to the last eight for the first time at the expense of Paraguay and Costa Rica.
Things were even tighter in Group C, where Nigeria qualified as group winners by beating England 2-1. Meanwhile, Korea Republic defeated Mexico by the same scoreline to leapfrog both the CONCACAF side and the English and reach the next round.
These four teams from four different confederations complete the quarter-final line up at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Nigeria 2-1 England
Korea Republic 2-1 Mexico
Costa Rica 0-3 New Zealand
Paraguay 0-3 France
Goal of the day
Korea Republic 2-1 Mexico, Tanya Samarzich (74’)
Although this was the most impressive strike of the matchday, it was not enough for El Tri in the end. Fifteen minutes from full time, Tanya Samarzich took advantage of a rebound on the right-hand side of the box and fired an unstoppable left-footed volley into the top left corner of the goal. Celebrations were restrained, however, with this magnificent shot failing to prevent Mexico’s early exit from the competition.
Faustine’s starring role
Although Faustine Robert fired France ahead against Paraguay with two calmly taken first-half goals, her real moment in the spotlight came at half-time. After returning to the field of play for the restart, a television camera doggedly pursued her in close-up for several minutes. “The cameraman was following me, and I wondered why,” the 20-year-old explained to FIFA.com after the match. Having initially been unsure how to react, she opted to make the most of this unexpected opportunity. “The assistant coaches found it pretty funny, so I thought I’d say a few words to my family and boyfriend back home. It gave me and the cameraman a laugh.”
The art of concentration
The gulf between two continents could not have been wider before England’s encounter with Nigeria. On one side of the tunnel, the Europeans were lined up neatly, lost in concentration and staring intently ahead. Just a few feet away, the picture was very different. The Nigerian players danced happily together, singing, laughing and taking turns to exchange hugs. If the atmosphere was designed to motivate the players, it paid off, with the African side ultimately emerging victorious.
An ominous turning point
In the course of World Cup history, English teams have developed a reputation for being less-than-perfect penalty takers. This must have crossed Bethany Mead’s mind as she stepped up to take a spot-kick in the 53rd minute of the Nigeria game. The 19-year-old charged forward confidently in the hope of putting her team ahead but lifted the ball high over Sandra Chiichii's goal. Meanwhile in Toronto, Korea Republic’s Lee Sodam had better luck at almost the same moment, converting her penalty against Mexico to score the winner and secure Korea Republic's place in the quarter-finals. It was Sodam’s second successful spot-kick of the tournament.
5 – Despite taking part in four previous U-20 Women’s World Cups, New Zealand had never managed to progress past the group stage. Canada 2014 was to prove fifth time lucky, however, as Aaron McFarland’s side posted two wins to end the group in second place behind favourites France and progress to the next round. The Kiwis’ 3-0 victory over Costa Rica was also their biggest win at an U-20 World Cup.
“We came here to prepare the future of Costa Rica’s women’s football, with some players who will represent the country for many years. And this experience is priceless. We have to face the truth that, in Costa Rica, we have no better players than those who were in this team. We took a risk when we came here with young players, but it will pay off in the long term. We’re not leaving with bad memories. Every World Cup is a blessing, and we feel very lucky to have come here,”
Garabet Avedissian, Costa Rica coach.
Saturday 16 August 2014 (all times local)
Korea DPR - USA, Toronto, 17:00
Germany - Canada, Edmonton, 18:00