Costa Rica will kick off the U-20 Women's World Cup on Wednesday, the first major global event for national team soccer after covid-19, in a tourna
Costa Rica will kick off the U-20 Women’s World Cup on Wednesday, the first major global event for national team soccer after covid-19, in a tournament where Japan will defend the title against threats from Brazil, Spain and the United States.
The Central American country will host, from August 10 to 28, the first World Cup for soccer teams to be held, in any of its categories, after the U-17 Men’s World Cup played in Brazil in 2019, the last one before of the arrival of the pandemic.
The Costa Rican event will be followed by the U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and the World Cup in Qatar, the tournament expected by all soccer fans, after more than two and a half years without a World Cup.
The covid-19 was also the cause of the delay of this World Cup, which should have been held in 2020 in Costa Rica and Panama, which finally declined the organization due to the situation caused by the pandemic.
In total, 16 teams will seek the title in 32 games, to be played at the San José National Stadium and at the Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium, in Alajuela, northwest of the Costa Rican capital.
– Brazil against Spain to whet your appetite –
Brazil and Spain, two of the candidates to snatch the crown from Japan, will face each other on Wednesday at the opening of Group A, which also includes local Costa Rica and Australia.
The Iberians arrive as brand new champions of Europe and runners-up in the world. The Spanish coach, Pedro López, will have the strengths of Salma Paralluelo (FC Barcelona) and Fiamma Benítez (Valencia) in attack.
“It’s going to be a tough World Cup in which all the games are going to be difficult, (but) we’re going to fight to reach that final that we want so much,” said Spanish defender Silvia Lloris (Levante).
But Brazil arrives unbeatable, after overwhelming in the last South American Championship, where they won their ninth title in the region, undefeated and without conceding goals. However, the Brazilian coach, Jonas Urias, does not want confidence.
“On the contrary (…) the level of development of women’s football in other countries requires a much higher level of concentration,” he said.
Urias will seek glory with Gabriela Barbieri (International) in goal, Lauren Leal (Atlético de Madrid) in defence, Vitória ‘Yaya’ Ferreira (Sao Paulo) in midfield and María ‘Dudinha’ Rodrigues (Sao Paulo) in the attack.
On that first day, and in Group B, Germany will also face Colombia, the attacker and runner-up of the Copa América for seniors, Linda Caicedo, and Mexico against New Zealand.
– Japan, to defend the crown –
Japan, the only women’s team that can boast of having won a World Cup in all categories, will defend the title won in France-2018.
The Samurai Blue, with forward Yuzuki Yamamoto and midfielder Aemu Oyama, will seek glory again, but “without any pressure”, according to its technical director, Futoshi Ikeda, who believes that the key will be in the “environment” of each team and on how “fast” the players develop during the tournament.
“Every country has a chance to win…there is a lot of excitement around women’s football, particularly in Europe, and many countries have improved a lot. We have to be careful with European teams, but also with the United States,” Ikeda said. .
Japan will kick off Thursday against the Netherlands and the United States against Ghana in Group D, while France will play Nigeria and Canada will play South Korea in Group C.
The North Americans arrive in Costa Rica after overwhelming goals in the Concacaf pre-world championship, but with the anxiety of seeking a title that they have not achieved for a decade.
“We have a highly competitive group” with “talent and depth,” US coach Tracey Kevins said. “They are all eager to prove themselves on the international stage” to reach the “next level,” she added.
France, with the promises Cyrielle Blanc (Montpellier), Laurina Fazer (PSG), Vicki Becho (Olympique de Lyon) and Hawa Sangare (PSG) will seek, at least, the semifinals reached four years ago.
Germany and the United States have three U-20 Women’s World Cups each, followed by North Korea with two and Japan with one.