Matchday two of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016 sees the two most successful teams in the history of the tournament – reigning champions Germany and USA – make their grand entrance. The Germans face newcomers Venezuela, while the Americans will attempt to avoid an early slip-up against France. Elsewhere, Mexico and Korea Republic renew acquaintances and Ghana and New Zealand will both fancy their chances of kicking off their campaigns with a win.
FIFA.com takes an in-depth look at all the upcoming action.
Match of the day
France-USA, PNG Football Stadium, 14 November (16:00 local time)
All eyes will be on the Group C encounter between France and USA on Monday, in a fixture that pits the team that finished third at Canada 2014 against the three-time U-20 world champions. The countries have met twice before, with the Stars and Stripes emerging victorious on both occasions: 1-0 at Russia 2006 and 3-0 at Chile 2008, where they would eventually lift the trophy for the second time. A much-anticipated key battle could play out between French defender Sakina Karchaoui, and US prodigy Mallory Pugh, who both took part in the 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Rio de Janeiro.
The other matches
In the same section, Ghana and New Zealand will each look to begin the tournament in triumphant fashion before taking on France and USA in the two subsequent matchdays. The Junior Football Ferns will be keen to repeat their creditable performance from two years ago in Canada, where they reached the quarter-finals. To achieve this goal, they will rely on several players with U-20 Women’s World Cup experience, including Emma Rolston, who scored two goals last time around.
In their three previous appearances at this level, Ghana have never advanced to the knockout stage. Their chances of breaking that hoodoo may rest on the shoulders of U-17 star Sandra Owusu-Ansah, who will be looking to make a major impact at PNG 2016.
Group D kicks off with an intriguing clash between heavyweights Germany and Venezuela, who are making their tournament debut in Papua New Guinea. In contrast, the Europeans will be making their sixth appearance at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, and have included five players in their squad who held aloft the illustrious trophy at Canada 2014. However, La Vinotinto reached the final of the 2015 South American U-20 Women’s Championship, and they will take great inspiration from their U-17 counterparts, who recently enjoyed an entertaining run to the semi-finals of Jordan 2016.
The other match in Group D between Korea Republic and Mexico is a repeat of the teams’ third and final group-stage game at Canada 2014, where the Asian side secured a crucial 2-1 victory. Propelled by three key players who participated in that tournament, Yeji Namgung, Hyeji Hong and Yeeun Park, the South Koreans will go out in search of a similar result against a team anxious to put the memory of their early exit in Canada behind them.
Player to watch
Mallory Pugh (USA)
Mallory Pugh has enjoyed a year to remember so far, having received a call-up to her country’s senior side for the first time in January. At 17, she was the youngest player to make her senior debut since Heather O’Reilly in 2002. Pugh made the most of her maiden cap, scoring a goal in a resounding 5-0 win over Ireland. The sprightly forward continued to shine over the summer, taking part in three matches at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, during which she found the net against Colombia in the group phase. As the top goalscorer at the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, she will likely be a major asset for a US team on the hunt for a fourth crown at this level.
2 – The number of times that Korea Republic and Mexico have locked horns at the U-20 Women’s World Cup. The South Koreans held the upper hand in both previous meetings, winning 3-1 in the quarter-finals of Germany 2010 and 2-1 in the group stage of Canada 2014. The latter result deprived the CONCACAF nation of a berth in the quarter-finals, a stage they had reached in 2012, as well as in 2010.
“We want to reach the knockout stage, although we know that all of our opponents are capable of beating us. At the U-17 Women’s World Cup, nobody predicted that Venezuela would reach the semi-finals. The group phase is never a walk in the park, and all it takes is a bit of bad luck for you to end up third,” Germany coach Maren Meinert.
France-USA, PNG Football Stadium (16:00)
Ghana-New Zealand, PNG Football Stadium (19:00)
Germany-Venezuela, National Football Stadium (16:00)
Mexico-Korea Republic, National Football Stadium (19:00)
(All times local)