Competition for medals is hotting up at the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014 with two eagerly awaited semi-finals, and the teams from Venezuela and China PR will need to demonstrate the quality that has made them the two leading medal contenders.
Venezuela - Mexico, Wutaishan Stadium, Saturday 23 August, 18:00 local time
Venezuela strode into the penultimate round buoyed by two clear victories, following up their 7-0 trouncing of Papua New Guinea with a comprehensive 6-2 win against Slovakia. Coach Kenneth Zseremeta’s side count experience and attacking efficiency among their greatest strengths; six squad members previously featured at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014, where their progress was only halted in the semi-finals by eventual champions Japan.
Venezuelan hopes for an even better finish in Nanjing primarily rest on U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014 adidas Golden Boot winner Deyna Castellanos, who has already found the net seven times during this tournament.
Nevertheless, Mexico will provide a tough challenge in the last four. Although the CONCACAF representatives began their campaign with a narrow defeat by China PR, their quality shone through during their resounding win against Namibia. The Mexicans have a very well balanced team, while Daniela Garcia, Montserrat Hernandez and Alejandra Zaragoza pose a formidable threat in attack.
China PR – Slovakia, Wutaishan Stadium, Saturday 23 August, 20:45 local time
The hosts will go into this match as clear favourites having negotiated the group stages with tremendous discipline and enthusiasm. The Chinese side’s rampant 10-0 victory against Namibia was a record scoreline for the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament. Despite this success, the home nation cannot afford to underestimate the threat posed by their semi-final opponents.
Slovakia, making their first appearance at the finals of a FIFA women’s tournament, can play with complete freedom after making a historic march to the last four. Midfield maestro Martina Surnovska and her team-mates rose admirably to the challenge of the group stages, and their tireless pursuit of the next goal means fans at the Wutaishan Stadium should be treated to a lively and eventful encounter.
The stat 13 – So far, Venezuela have been the most prolific team at the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament in Nanjing. The South Americans have already celebrated 13 successful strikes, almost a third of the 40 goals scored in the entire competition to date.
The player to watch
Veronika Jancova (SVK)
The Slovan Bratislava midfielder has looked like a fully-fledged No10 in this tournament so far. She uses her technical skills, game intelligence and initiative to consistently create opportunities for her team-mates but is also not afraid to look for a finish herself. Jancova was rewarded for her efforts with her first tournament goal in the 4-0 win over Papua New Guinea, and it is unlikely to be her last.
Did you know?
Three of Mexico’s players are on the books of football clubs in the USA: Kelsey Brann and Kimberly Rodriguez of Texas Rush and Slammers FC’s Marianna Maldonado.