Colombia

Unfancied Colombia arrived almost unnoticed in Chile for the inaugural South American Women's U-17 Championship in January. Pedro Ignacio Rodriguez's girls had a surprise in store for their rivals, however, improving as the tournament went on to take the continental crown and book their passage to New Zealand 2008.

The secret to their success was free-flowing attacking football, a simple formula that helped the Colombians to two comprehensive victories over Argentina. Suffering only a solitary defeat to Brazil in the final phase, Rodriguez's charges put together some impressive figures, notching 22 goals to finish joint top scorers with Paraguay, while conceding a mere eight.

Qualification
The Cafeteritas kicked off with a 1-1 draw against Ecuador but hit top gear in their next match, downing Argentina 3-0. After another 1-1 draw with hosts Chile, the Colombians ended the group phase with a 5-0 defeat of Bolivia, a result that secured them second place in Group A.

Although they got off on the wrong foot in the group phase with a 3-1 defeat to Brazil, Colombia bounced back with crushing 4-1 victory over the Argentinians and followed up with a 7-2 demolition of Paraguay, a result that secured them the title and a place in New Zealand.

The coach
Bogota born and bred, Pedro Ignacio Rodriguez's coaching credentials are impressive to say the least. The 44-year-old majored in Educational Science at the city's Universidad Pedagogica, specialising in Physical Education. After coaching the women's team at Colegio Nueva Granada, he graduated to Liga de Futbol de Bogota, whom he guided to the national women's championship in 2006 and the runners-up spot in 2007. In November last year Rodriguez took the reins with the women's U-17 national team and made an instant impact, steering the Cafeteritas to their first ever continental title and a berth at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup finals.

Star players
A midfielder with an eye for goal is a valuable asset for any side and the Colombians' very own goalscoring machine goes by the name of Tatiana Ariza. The second highest scorer at the South American championships, the 16-year-old Ariza plies her trade with Liga de Cundinamarca and made her mark in Chile with a hat-trick against Argentina in the group phase. Ably supporting her were striker Ingrid Vidal, who bagged four goals, and the side's skipper, defender Natalia Gaitan, who chipped in with three.

What they said...
"We've achieved a historic result for Colombian football at the Sudamericano and a lot of mental and tactical work has gone into preparing our players for this. We treated all our rivals with respect and the results are there for everyone to see: we're the champions and we're going to the World Cup. This team has a great future ahead of it," Pedro Ignacio Rodriguez, Colombia coach.