BAKU/AIPS: Uruguay coach Graciela Rebolla said FIFA may need to consider allowing more substitutions in the U-17 Women’s World Cup after players wilted with cramp and heat exhaustion.
All the teams in Group D played in a double header at Baku’s Dalga Arena where the hot sun beamed down all afternoon and evening on the under-17’s, some as young as 14.
Uruguay were outclassed by China who won 4-0. Chen Zhang got two early on supported by strikes either half by Jiali Tang and Lu Yueyun. The South Americans also had goalkeeper Gabriela Gonzalez sent off after 51 minutes for handling outside the box.
But Uruguay were also outdone by cramp as players crumpled to the floor in the final third of the game. Head coach Rebolla said that this was due to many factors including the quality of the pitch.
“Maybe we need to think about having more substitutes in this competition but there were also other factors,” she said. “There were a lot of other factors which made a difference. For example playing on an artificial pitch is a new thing for them, they had no real experience of that, just three or four games before we came here.”
“Then there was the weather – the wind – and they were also very nervous. In our team we have girls who are only 14 or 15, which is very young for this competition, and are players for the future.”
The weather proved to be a common issue as the earlier game saw Germanyalmost succumb to exhaustion before hanging on to beat Ghana 2-1.
First half goals from Vivien Beil and the superb Pauline Bremer showed Germany’s early intent but as the match wore on, the heat and dehydration took its toll with the Germans looking physically spent.
Ghana came back into the match on 80 minutes with a goal from substitute Jane Ayieyam who left the German defence for dead with a surging run. After the final whistle Germanyhead coach Anouschka Bernhard said that hydration was something they would seek to combat better at the next game.
“We were tired, it very was hard for the players to continue at the end,” she said. “We cool the players down at half time and then at the end of the match. During the game we try to give them water to drink when it is possible but it was very hard for them today.”
“I think maybe next time we will have more water bottles around the pitch to help them.”
Bernhard also pointed out that in the European Championships, of which they are champions, the teams play only 40 minutes a half. “OK is only a difference of ten minutes but it does have an effect on the players” she added.
The German players will be thankful that their next game against China is in the evening on Wednesday at 8 o’clock following Uruguay v Ghana at 5pm local.
FIFA may want to look at the possibility of playing shorter halves, allowing more substitutes or simply hosting these competitions in milder climates so that players don’t over exert themselves and damage their bodies which may ultimately harm their chance of progressing to the senior level.
Christian Radnedge , AIPS Young Reporter, Great Britain
AIPS, the international sports media association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with the co-operation of FIFA and supported by the Azeri Ministry of Youth & Sport
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