New faces make final push
The race to succeed the USA as world champions has been whittled down to just four – perennial candidates Germany and three sides who are competing in the semi-finals of a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for the first time: Nigeria, Korea Republic and Colombia. The in-form hosts test their mettle against free-scoring Korea Republic in Bochum, while the pacy and powerful Falconets, who sent defending champions USA packing, take on the technically adept and clinical Cafeteras in Bielefeld.
The matches*Germany-Korea Republic, Bochum, Thursday, 15:30 (local time)** *When it comes to the business end of FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups, few teams can match the experience or pedigree of Germany. In the three previous editions, they have only once failed to reach the semi-finals (Russian 2006), having been crowned champions two years earlier at Thailand 2004. Thursday’s showdown will be the hosts’ second successive duel with an Asian rival after seeing off 2006 champions Korea DPR in the quarters. As for Korea Republic, no one could deny their right to a last-four berth in this only their second appearance at the event, having followed an impressive group phase by dispatching a gifted Mexico side in their last-eight fixture.
If current form is anything to go by, there should be goals and drama aplenty in Bochum. Germany and Korea Republic are the tournaments top-scoring sides with 13 and 11 strikes respectively. Moreover, the fixture features a personal duel between sharpshooters Alexandra Popp of the hosts (seven goals to date) and her opponent Ji So-Yun, who is only one behind in the standings.
Colombia-Nigeria, Bielefeld, Thursday, 18:30 (local time)** The second semi-final has a novel look to it, with debutants Colombia meeting tournament regulars Nigeria for the first time in women’s football. The Falconets, who will be making their first ever semi-final appearance, have a spring in their step after seeing off reigning champions USA on penalties in the previous round, and see no reason now why they cannot go all the way.
Colombia, for their part, will be hoping their remarkable progress at Germany 2010 gives a substantial lift to the women’s game in their homeland. Runners-up to the hosts in Group A, Ricardo Rozo’s side then proved too tactically astute for Sweden in the last eight. Having defied the odds all the way, Las Cafeteras will not want to miss their chance to make history.
The stat4- The number of confederations represented in last-four of Germany 2010, where Nigeria have given Africa its first semi-finalist in the five-edition history of the event. Colombia fill the position vacated by Brazil as South America’s representative, Korea Republic replace their northern neighbours in flying the flag for Asia, while the hosts ensure a European flavour to the semi-finals once again.
The quote "We’re determined to win this World Cup and so we can’t afford to slip up against anyone. We respect all our opponents but we want to be champions of Germany 2010,” Alexandra Popp, Germany striker, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.