History beckons on day of reckoning
© Getty Images

The last day of the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014 will decide who goes home in triumph with a medal around their neck and whose dreams of a podium finish will be brought to an abrupt end.

The matches
Play-off for third place
MexicoSlovakia, Wutaishan Stadium, Tuesday 26 August, 18:00 local time
Mexico and Slovakia have more than earned the right to a bronze medal after their strong semi-final performances. Both teams put up a magnificent fight against favourites Venezuela and China PR in the last four and were only beaten by the narrowest of margins. Third place would mark another impressive chapter in Slovakia’s history and provide a fitting end to their first appearance at the finals of a FIFA women’s tournament, while reaching the bottom step of the podium would also be a historic achievement for Mexico.

Final
VenezuelaChina PR, Wutaishan Stadium, Tuesday 26 August, 20:45 local time
The Chinese will do everything in their power to crown their commanding performances at this tournament with a gold medal in front of a home crowd. Coach Lu Yiliang’s team stormed into their semi-final against Slovakia as group winners on the back of two resounding victories, but then could not convert their superiority into goals and needed spot-kicks to see them through to this match. The Asian side will need to convert more of their goalscoring opportunities against Venezuela while paying particular attention to star striker Deyna Castellanos, who has already scored seven goals at this competition.

The South Americans have benefited from the experience of six players who featured at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, where they finished in fourth place. Victory in the final of the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2014 would confirm once and for all that coach Kenneth Zseremeta is ushering in a new golden generation. Venezuela not only boast the most prolific attack of the tournament but also demonstrated strength of nerve and willpower by overcoming Mexico in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final. The team will have to cope without suspended defender Nikol Gonzalez for the final.

The stat
4
– The number four is considered unlucky in China. This superstition appears to be reinforced by the fact that Chinese sides have reached the final of four previous FIFA women’s tournaments before Nanjing (FIFA Women’s World Cup 1999™, Women’s Olympic Football Tournament 1996, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2004 and 2006) but have failed to win any of them. Coach Lu Yiliang’s team are now hoping to seal victory for their country at the fifth attempt. 

The player to watch
Zhang Jiayun (CHN)
China PR’s left-back will be in particular demand during the final as she attempts to snuff out any Venezuelan forays with her defensive colleagues while seeking to launch attacks down the wing for her own team. The lightning-fast Beijing Youth Team defender managed this particularly well in the match against Namibia, repeatedly creating opportunities for her team-mates and scoring two goals of her own.

Did you know?
Mexico have already made 13 appearances at the finals of a FIFA women’s tournament. In addition to this summer’s Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament, the North Americans took part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999 and 2011, the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in 2004, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Nanjing marks the Mexicans’ first appearance in the last four of a FIFA women’s competition.