- Japan and Mexico go toe-to-toe, Brazil and South Africa keep fingers crossed
- Ghana and New Zealand vie for first place in Group A
- Uruguay and Finland go in search of historic victory
Matchday 5 at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 sees the spotlight turn on Group A, where, with Ghana and New Zealand already qualified for the quarter-finals, the remaining issue to be resolved is which of those teams will finish top, and on Group B, where any combination of the four sides can feasibly still advance, although Japan and Mexico find themselves in a highly advantageous position.
What you need to know
Primed for pole position: Ghana and New Zealand will lock horns for the first time in the tournament’s history in Montevideo, with first place in Group A up for grabs. The Africans, who will retain top spot in the event of a draw, have more experience of facing this type of challenge, having reached at least the quarter-finals at the past four U-17 Women’s World Cups.
Medal of honour: Both Finland and Uruguay have already been eliminated, but they will have exactly the same aim when they go head-to-head on Wednesday: their first-ever win in the tournament. With that at stake, the duel in Maldonado promises to be hotly contested.
Tight at the top: Maldonado will also provide the stage for Japan versus Mexico, where a point apiece would allow both teams to advance to the last eight. The Mexicans should be prepared for a tough battle, however, as the Asians have emerged victorious from their two previous clashes (9-0 in 2012 and 2-0 in 2014).
Goal glut required: In order to book a place in the quarters, Brazil and South Africa have to win while scoring several goals and hope that either Japan or Mexico slip up in Group B’s other match. However, this task will be doubly difficult, given that both sides are going through significant droughts in front of goal: the South Americans have gone 234 minutes without finding the net, while the South Africans have not got on the scoresheet for 329 minutes.
Players to watch
Sphumelele Shamase (RSA): the talented midfielder will need to be at her very best in what is South Africa’s most important match of the competition so far.
Haruka Osawa (JPN): the clinical striker set the tone against South Africa by scoring an early brace, and will be hopeful of repeating that performance versus Mexico to guarantee qualification for the quarter-finals.
Belen Aquino (URU): scorer of Uruguay’s first goal in the tournament, for which she received a standing ovation, the lively forward is a key component of the hosts’ attack.
Emily (BRA): after finishing as Brazil’s joint top goalscorer at the 2018 South American U-17 Women's Championship, she has thus far failed to hit the back of the net in Uruguay. Will Emily finally break her duck against South Africa?