VICTOR PEREIRA / AIPS* in AMMAN: No second chance. From now on it really will be one match at a time for the surviving countries ambitious to win the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016.
The quarter-finals – 90 minutes plus extra-time and penalties if necessary – match eight teams representing four continents. Action starts tomorrow/Wednesday with two matches in the Amman International Stadium to set up the first semi-final with the second pairing emerging from the winners of Thursday’s games in the Al-Hassan International Stadium in Irbid.
TOMORROW – Mexico v Venezuela (4pm local, Amman International):
La Vinotinto, as Venezuela are known, are a surprise presence in the quarterfinals. They qualified from Group B as runners-up after defeating a strong Canadian team 2-0 in their concluding match.
Forward Deyna Castellanos is the team’s brightest star, having been Player of the Match against both Cameroon and Canada, and she is also their main weapon against Mexicans.
By contrast Mexico are unbeaten so far and have the second-best attack of the competition. Outstanding for the Mexicans, Group A winners, is central midfielder Dayana Cazares who has demonstrated her vision and speed in Jordan.
Germany v Spain (7pm local, Amman International):
This is the first time these teams have met in the competition. Germany have one of the weakest attacks among the quarter-finals with only five goals to their credit while Spain boast the best defence, with only one conceded.
Mannschaft midfielder Giulia Gwinn has scored in every match thus far – the only player here to have done so – and, with clever and creative players alongside her, will be confident of keeping that run going.
THURSDAY – North Korea v Ghana (4pm, Al-Hassan International Stadium, Irbid):
North Korea, the first U-17 Women’s World Cup winners, are back facing a Ghana team who want to repeat their feat in 2008 when the Black Maidens reached the semi-finals.
The teams have met twice before with a draw and a victory for the African team. This time, North Korea appear to be favourites, being unbeaten in the tournament, and playing consistently good football.
The nose for goal of Ri Hae-Yon and the quality of Ko Kyong-Hui Sung and Hyang-Sim has been central to their success in finishing top of Group C and thus still chasing a second world U-17 title.
To prevent this, the Black Maidens will be working to improve an attack which, so far, has scored only three times. Their hopes of reaching the last four will depend on the abilities of their leader and captain Sandra Owusu-Ansah.
Japan v England (4pm, Al-Hassan International Stadium, Irbid):
This match between the best attack and the second-weakest defence of the quarter-finalists will produce the last semi-finalists.
Playing beautiful football the Japanese, title holders, are the only team to have won all of the three group matches, scoring 13 goals thanks largely to 5-0 victories over Paraguay and Ghana. England, on the other hand, have won only once owing their qualification to a 2-1 win over Brazil.
This is the second time the Little Nadeshiko and the Lionesses have met n the quarter-finals. In 2008 in New Zealand they drew 2-2 and England won 5-4 on penalties.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide – currently holding a Young Reporters graduation course in at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com