THE DAY REPLAYED: The semi-final line-up at the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014 is complete after Slovakia and China PR grabbed the last two places following the final round of group matches. The pair lived up to their billing as favourites to go through by recording comprehensive victories and now join Venezuela and Mexico in jostling for a berth in the final. Defeat ended any hopes outsiders Papua New Guinea and Namibia had of picking up a medal.
The results *Group A
*Slovakia 4-0 Papua New Guinea
*There was no holding back among the Slovakian players at the final whistle after writing their names in the history books by recording their country’s first victory during their maiden campaign at a FIFA women’s tournament. The Europeans started strongly and Laura Sucha’s tenth minute strike was followed up by an effort from Martina Surnovska to give them a 2-0 half-time lead. Slovakia continued to dominate after the restart but were often careless in the final third, where Papua New Guinea goalkeeper Eileen Daviaga stood out with several excellent saves. Further goals from Surnovska and the outstanding Veronika Jancova completed the scoreline to send Slovakia into the semi-finals, a feat coach Branislav Petrovic’s charges celebrated enthusiastically on their lap of honour. *Group B
*Namibia 0-10 China PR
*The tournament hosts began furiously and created their first goalscoring chance after just a matter of seconds. Wan Wenting and Zhang Jiayun gave China an early advantage before Ma Xiaolan netted a hat-trick to put the side 5-0 in front at the break. The match followed a similar pattern in the second half, as the Chinese carved out numerous opportunities with their fluid attacking play. Xiaolan notched her fourth of the evening and efforts from Jin Kun, Wang Yenwen, Zhang Jiayun and Fang Jie completed the rout, which marked the biggest win in tournament history.
Memorable moments *Olympic spirit
*Alongside the sporting element at the competition, imparting the Olympic values to aid personal development is a central aspect of the Youth Olympics. For the duration of the event, the youngsters from all over the globe reside together in the Olympic Village, where they experience intercontinental exchanges and a sense of community through the cultural and educational programmes on offer. It has produced solidarity and friendship, as could be seen between the players of Papua New Guinea and Slovakia when, with beaming faces, they hugged warmly and bade each other farewell after the final whistle.
*They may no longer be able to earn a medal in Nanjing, but the goalkeepers from Papua New Guinea and Namibia would certainly be worthy winners of an award for bravery. Eileen Daviaga went into her team’s game against Slovakia nursing a painful finger injury. Not only did she manage to play the full 80 minutes, she also made several eye-catching saves. Daviaga’s stand-in goalkeeper, Faith Kasiray, also picked up an injury during the pre-match warm-up but was able to take her place on the bench after receiving medical treatment. Namibia’s custodian Queandra Kasume proved she was also made of stern stuff when she took a knock in the first half against China, but was likewise able to continue after a short break in which the team’s medical staff attended to her.
The stat 1 - China are hosting their fourth FIFA women’s tournament after also staging the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 1991 and 2007, as well as the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in 2008. The current competition marks the first time the Asians have qualified for the semi-finals as hosts.* Next up *Semi-finals
Venezuela - Mexico, Wutaishan Stadium, Saturday 23 August, 18:00 (local time)
China PR - Slovakia, Wutaishan Stadium, Saturday 23 August, 20:45 (local time)
Play-Off for Fifth Place
Papua New Guinea - Namibia, *Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Monday 25 August, 18:00 (local time) *