The four sides left in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan have one objective left in mind — to reach the final and keep their title hopes alive.
On Monday, in the semifinals it will be Venezuela against North Korea at 4pm, followed by Spain taking on Japan at the King Abdullah II International Stadium in Amman at 7pm.
Three of the four already know what it means to go so far — only Venezuela has yet to make it to the final. North Korea was the tournament’s first winners in 2008 and finished runners-up four years later, while Spain and Japan fought for the trophy in Costa Rica two years ago, with the Japanese emerging victorious, having lost out in the 2010 final.
Spain has grown tired of just missing out on the big prizes. Finalists at Costa Rica 2014, and the UEFA European Women’s U-17 Championship.
Japan has become a cohesive and tight-knit unit that it is virtually impossible to pick out any one player over another, no matter who is on the pitch. To prove the point, coach Naoki Kusunose has used every member of his squad at Jordan 2016, without it affecting the quality of his side’s performances.
Statistically it’s hard to predict who will be chasing the ball more when they meet on Monday.
“I would call the way we play the ‘Japanese style’, because we all work together as a unit. Our next game against Spain is likely to be a great match, and we’ll be ready to continue defending our title,” Japan coach Naoki Kusunose told Fifa.com on Friday.
The other semifinal could boil down to a battle between Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos and North Korea’s teamwork.
The final and the 3rd and 4th place match will be played on Friday.
Jordan was eliminated from the first round losing 5-0 to New Zealand, 4-1 to Mexico and 6-0 to Spain. Sarah Abu Sabbah made history by scoring Jordan’s only goal in the Kingdom’s inaugural appearance in the U-17 World Cup.
The biggest sporting event to be hosted in the Kingdom also marked the first time that a women’s tournament of this scale has been hosted in the Middle East region. It was Jordan’s first appearance at the U-17 Women’s World Cup and also its first appearance at any level at a FIFA World Cup.
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