THE DAY REPLAYED – The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 got off to a flying start, with eight goals, a major upset and revenge for the last World Cup final among the major headlines on Day One.
Almost 15,000 hopeful spectators made their way to Toronto’s National Stadium to cheer on Canada in the opening match. However, Ghana had not read the script and spoiled the hosts’ party with a 1-0 win and the first shock of the tournament.
Several thousand miles to the west, Germany managed to avenge their defeat to USA in the final of Japan 2012. For their part, 2006 world champions Korea DPR also posted a narrow win, over Finland, while China secured a last-gasp point against Brazil.
Finland 1-2 Korea DPR
Canada 0-1 Ghana
Germany 2-0 USA
China PR 1-1 Brazil
Goal of the day
Finland 1-2 Korea DPR: Sini Laaksonen (28’)
Finland had just conceded for the second time to Korea DPR when Sini Laaksonen snatched the ball in her opponents’ half. The midfielder dribbled past two players to reach the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a superb shot into the top-left corner that gave the Korean keeper no chance.
The perfect birthday present
At 41, Maren Meinert has doubtless had some memorable birthdays, but this one is sure to linger for some time. Germany gave their coach the perfect gift with a 2-0 victory over USA and exacted revenge for their final defeat to the Stars & Stripes in Japan two years ago. The birthday girl also took up her position on the touchline in an U-20 international for a record 23rd time in Alberta’s capital city.
Brazilian footballing magic
The second half of the evening’s second match in Edmonton got off to a quiet start before Brazil’s Byanca sparked the game into life. Receiving the ball on the right-hand side, she flicked it over her head with her heel while on the run to stun both the assembled crowd and the opposition defenders - a skill she unveiled two years earlier at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Azerbaijan 2012. Although this particular moment of brilliance did not lead to a goal, the Brazilian magician scored to give her team the lead against China PR several minutes later – but ultimately it was not enough. Byanca was forced to leave the field through injury late in the game, only for the Chinese to grab a last-minute equaliser.
340 – 17-year-old Sherifatu Sumaila’s goal in Ghana’s match against Canada will not go down as one of the most stunning strikes in the tournament’s history. Nevertheless, it was a very special moment for the Black Princesses, as it not only sealed their surprise victory over the hosts but also ended a 340-minute U-20 World Cup goal drought for the African side. Fittingly, Ghana’s last goal in the competition was scored by Elizabeth Cudjoe in their 2-0 win against Switzerland in 2010; four years later her younger sister Jennifer started the match against Canada and was instrumental in her team’s triumph.
"I had said before the tournament that we had the potential to win the World Cup. And we sent a signal that we’re not here for fun, but for business. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want to win the World Cup," Bashir Hayford, Ghana coach.
Wednesday 6 August 2014 (all times local)
Group C (Moncton)
England – Korea Republic, 17:00
Mexico – Nigeria, 20:00
Group D (Montreal)
France – Costa Rica, 17:00
New Zealand – Paraguay, 20:00