Favourites seek to seal last eight berths

The first matchday in Groups C and D at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012 was a veritable treat for the fans in Kobe and Hiroshima, with no fewer than 20 goals in four games. The upshot going into the second round of matches is that it is already a win-or-bust situation for the opening-day losers, who are clearly bent on recovering from poor starts.

In an unusual quirk, it could yet be that the identity of the four quarter-finalists could already be known at the end of matchday two. This would be the case if Canada, Korea DPR, Germany and USA win for the second time.

Match of the day
GermanyGhana, Hiroshima, 23 August 2012, 16:00 (local time)
The position heading into this matchday is starkly contrasting for the two teams. The Germans opened their campaign in style by beating China PR 4-0, but the Black Princesses were brought down to earth with a bump in losing to USA by the same score.

The Europeans and the Africans have never met before at this level, but they did cross swords in 2008 at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, when Germany squeezed home 3-2. Three of the scorers from that match are now in Japan: Florence Dadson for Ghana, and Germany pair Dzsenifer Marozsan and Leoni Maier.

Other highlights

In Thursday’s second Group D encounter, USA will be looking to maintain the sparkling form they showed against Ghana when they face the Chinese, if only to avoid a potential do-or-die clash against the Germans in the final round of group matches.

In Group C, Argentina are determined to put a disastrous start to the tournament behind them. The South Americans tumbled to a 6-0 defeat against Canada, their cause hardly helped by Agustina Barroso’s straight red card just seven minutes into the match. However, 2006 U-20 world champions Korea DPR will be a tough nut to crack.

The mood in the Norway camp after their 4-2 defeat to the Koreans on opening day was one of exasperation, as the Scandinavians twice came from behind to level but ended up empty-handed. A much tighter defensive display is a necessity against powerful Canada.

Player to watch
Canada striker Adriana Leon rates as one of the revelations of the tournament so far. She plundered a hat-trick in a single half against Argentina, effectively ensuring victory for her team before the interval. Coach Andrew Olivieri even enjoyed the luxury of withdrawing Leon at the break, so she is more than likely to be fit and raring to go into the next match. Norway will have taken note and appreciate the need to be wide awake against the in-form striker.

The stat
0 – Although USA are the most successful nation in the history of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, they actually have a negative record against China PR, with defeats in both matches so far. The US girls went down 5-4 on penalties in the 2006 semi-finals, with the Asians chalking up a 2-0 victory in the group phase two years later.

The words

“Our target is not simply to win our group. We’re here to reach the final, and we won’t be satisfied after any of our games until we’ve hit our target,” Korea DPR coach Sin Ui Gun

The Schedule
Thursday 23 August (all times are local)
Korea DPRArgentina (Kobe, 16:00)
NorwayCanada (Kobe, 19:00)
GhanaGermany (Hiroshima, 16:00)
USAChina PR (Hiroshima, 19:00)