Thrills expected in girls' semis
The Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament picks up pace as the competition reaches the semi-final stage, with Equatorial Guinea pitted against Iran, and Chile facing up to a formidable Turkey side. After the quartet’s impressive performances during the group phase, there should be no secrets between these rivals as they aim to step up a gear and claim a place in the final.
After losing 4-1 to Equatorial Guinea in their last outing, Chile are left with the daunting task of meeting Turkey in the last four. The Europeans have proved to be the tournament’s top guns so far with eight goals scored in two games, outscoring Equatorial Guinea, who have been on target seven times. Nazmiye Aytop is the team’s top scorer with two goals but bossing play from midfield is the dynamic Hilal Baskol, who always looks dangerous with her precision passing and pinpoint set pieces. As well as physical prowess and speed, Turkey also possess supreme confidence, a quality never more in evidence than when they came from behind to beat Iran in their tournament opener.
Chile, despite their defeat to the Africans, have showed they are one of the tournament’s best-organised teams. And their potency up front can’t be underestimated, with Romina Orellana always dangerous through her explosive pace and accurate finishing. Coach Rodrigo Valdes’ charges will be further motivated to show their best form by the chance to represent their country at the September’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.
The only team in the girls’ tournament who openly stated their ambition for gold, Equatorial Guinea, have already shown that they are more than capable of realising their aim. With two emphatic wins and seven goals to their name, Jean Paul Mpile’s talented charges have quickly established themselves as favourites to win the inaugural competition. The Africans’ speed and technique is particularly impressive, with Felicidad Avomo and Judit Ndong mesmerising rivals and fans alike with their speed and dribbling skills.
All this, however, does not prevent Iran from expecting to spring another surprise heading into the game. Nevertheless, while these former futsal players pack a punch in front of the goal, it is their lack of experiences in defence which makes coach Shahrzad Mozafar wary. “Our girls have got ready to put up a defensive battle against the Africans,” she told FIFA.com. “We conceded to late goals to lose to Turkey and I hope the lessons have been learned.”
3 players have completed a brace so far, with Felicidad Avomo the most noteworthy. The Equatorial Guinea striker netted twice in each of the two group games to top the tournament scoring chart with four goals.
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Chile coach Rodrigo Valdes was in charge of the national U-20 side last year, taking them to fourth place at the South American Championship this March to narrowly miss out on a place at the recent FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Germany.
“We will compete in next month's FIFA U17 Women's World Cup at Trinidad and Tobago and I am hoping to have another chance to represent my country at an older age level. It is the coach to decide whom of this team will make it there but I will do my best to earn a place,” Romina Orellana, Chile forward