Hosts favourites to progress, others out to make history
Venezuela and Mexico have already secured their place in the semi-finals of the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014, and the third matchday will now determine which two teams will join them. Hosts China PR look best placed to progress, with even a narrow defeat to Namibia enough to ensure their passage to the penultimate round. Meanwhile, the winner of the duel between Slovakia and Papua New Guinea will have an opportunity to make history.
The matches Slovakia – Papua New Guinea, Wutaishan Stadium, Wednesday 20 August, 18:00 local time Both of these sides suffered big defeats to Venezuela in their opening games and will now fight it out to decide who takes second place in Group A. The Slovakians’ superior goal difference means a draw would be sufficient to take them to the semi-final, but coach Branislav Petrovic refuses to rely on this slight advantage. “We’ve got attacking strengths, so we’ll play for a win,” he told FIFA.com.
Reaching the last four would be a historic achievement for both teams. Nanjing 2014 marks Slovakia’s first appearance in the finals of a FIFA women’s tournament, and while Papua New Guinea previously competed at the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2010 in Singapore, they missed out on a semi-final berth after two defeats before losing the match for fifth place.
Namibia – China PR, Wutaishan Stadium, Wednesday 20 August, 20:45 local time The Chinese are among the leading gold medal contenders and can relax heading into their encounter with Namibia after a 2-0 opening match win over Mexico. Even a narrow defeat by the Africans, who were crushed 9-0 by the North American side, would be enough to see the hosts through. Nevertheless, coach Lu Yiliang’s team will no doubt do everything they can to ensure they top Group B and avoid the formidable Venezuelans in the next round.
The stat 26 – The Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament in Nanjing has been an extremely high-scoring affair so far, with 26 goals scored in the first four matches at a rate of 6.5 goals per game. By comparison, only 36 goals were scored across all 11 games at Singapore 2010.
The player to watch Jin Kun (CHN) The lightning-fast striker shone against Mexico, scoring one goal and setting up another. With her pacy dribbling, Jin Kun was the hosts’ most impressive player and was involved in almost every one of their attacking opportunities. Although she will only turn 15 in October, the Jiangsu forward is already a cornerstone of the Chinese team.
Did you know? In October, Namibia will host the CAF African Women’s Championship, a tournament that will determine which three African sides will represent the continent at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™.