Germany edge Nigeria to take the trophy ( 25 Aug 2014

Germany have won the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for a record-equalling third time after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Nigeria at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

Lena Petermann scored the title-winning goal eight minutes into extra time to settle a match that, like the semi-final against France, had seen the Germans outplayed for long stretches. For the second match in succession, though, the Europeans’ will to win shone through, as did the quality of goalkeeper Meike Kamper – again named player of the match.

This clash of styles and football cultures was always expected to produce an open, engaging final, and so it proved, with the first chance created after just 40 seconds. Germany were the team to make the early running, with a quickly taken free-kick releasing Marine Dafeur for a left-foot shot that Kim Chol-Ok saved fairly comfortably.

Nigeria quickly gained a foothold, though, and went on to dominate the first half, creating the better and more numerous chances. An inability to convert those chances was their only failing, and the most guilty party was tournament top scorer Asisat Oshoala.

The in-form striker, who had scored four times in the semi-final win over Korea DPR, was lively throughout but missed her first golden opportunity after 22 minutes. In fairness, she created the opening out of nothing, robbing Margarita Gidion, outpacing the German defence and rounding Kamper in a stunning display of speed and strength. She could not, however, find the finishing touch, managing only to shoot into the side-netting from an acute angle.

With Nigeria’s superior physical attributes a telling factor on the big Olympic Stadium pitch, it wasn’t long before more chances arrived, with Oshoala again given a sight of goal seven minutes before the break. Again, though, her sights were out, with the ball flashing wide after Chiwendo Ihezuo had done well to snatch possession from Rebecca Knaak at the byline and cut the ball back.

These were nonetheless worrying times for Germany, whose best effort had come from a Lina Magull free-kick comfortably saved by Sandra Chiichii. But Maren Meinert’s side began the second half brightly, with Theresa Panfil and Lena Petermann combining to tee up Sara Daebritz for a powerful left-foot shot that skidded into the arms of Chiichii.

Oshoala remained a constant source of danger, though, and she again came to life three minutes later, jinking in from the left wing past two German defenders. All that was lacking was the final touch, with the No4’s first effort striking a team-mate before the rebound was sliced high and wide.

However, missing chances wasn’t restricted to Oshoala and Nigeria. Germany also spurned their opportunities, with Pauline Bremer stealing in unmarked on a Sara Dabritz free-kick only to head wastefully wide. The Super Falconets then had to call on the bravery of their keeper, with Chiichii racing from her line to dive at the feet of Lena Petermann, picking up a bruised jaw in the process.

Play still tended to rage towards the other end, though, and with five minutes remaining Nigeria had the ball in the net only for their celebrations to be cut short by the assistant referee’s flag. That left extra time to settle this pulsating affair and, after Oshoala had again gone close for Nigeria, it was Germany who found a breakthrough.

Petermann scored it, slotting home from six yards, but the plaudits went to the energetic Bremer, who had robbed left-back Gladys Abasi before driving towards the byline and delivering the perfect cutback.

Nigeria, who had given so much to the match, proved unable to respond. Germany saw out the remaining minutes with a degree of comfort and can now savour the familiar feeling of being crowned champions of the world.

Live Your Goals player of the match: Meike Kamper (GER)


Four coaches, four opinions ( 24 Aug 2014

The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 will reach its conclusion on Sunday with the play-off for third place and the final. The four remaining coaches fielded questions from journalists on the eve of the last two games. brings you a round-up of their comments.
Play-off for third placeKorea DPR – France, Montreal, 24 August 2014, 16:00 local timeGilles Eyquem, France coach
“It’s a little difficult to keep the team motivated after our disappointing defeat by Germany in the semi-final. We’re trying to convince the girls to forget that loss and concentrate on winning a bronze medal. It’s always good to be able to travel home with something to show for your efforts, and we haven’t yet been able to win a medal at an U-20 Women’s World Cup, so it’s important for us. It’s a good experience for the girls to play at such a high level against all kinds of teams from many different nations. Korea DPR are a good side, and they’re used to playing in the final stages of major tournaments. We beat them in the final of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2012 in Azerbaijan, so that’s one way to motivate our group. We hope we can end this contest with the best possible result and take a medal home with us. It’ll be a tough match against a great team.”Hwang Yong Bong, Korea DPR coach
“We’ve already played five matches and our players have not been able to recover their full physical strength. I think our team have learned a great deal at this tournament. Our aim was to stay in this competition until the very end, and we’ve done that. We’re very happy to be able to play off for third place. We previously played France at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan. We’ll try to give our all to win this match and go home with a medal.”
Final Nigeria – Germany, Montreal, 24 August 2014, 19:00 local timeMaren Meinert, Germany coach
“We’re very pleased to be able to contest this final; it was clear we were the luckier team in the semi-final. Although it’s the same match as in 2010, it doesn’t really have anything to do with that game because none of those players are still in the team. Every year of youth football brings with it another new group of players, so you can’t compare one result with another. We’re looking forward to playing Nigeria. So far we’ve only faced strong opponents, and Nigeria are definitely another one; they’ve had a great tournament. I think we’ll have to put in a good overall defensive performance to deal with their top goalscorer – that’s the only way we’ll come through.”Peter Dedevbo, Nigeria coach
“We’re very happy to be part of this competition and be able to qualify for our second final. We faced five very difficult games during this tournament. We lost to Germany in 2010, and this time we’re meeting them again so we want to try and improve on our showing from four years ago. Germany are a very good team; we want to respect them and want them to respect us too. We want to give our very best in this match.”

Chung: Canada 2014 has been a success( 23 Aug 2014

A press conference has been held in Montreal on the eve of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 final. In attendance were David Chung, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the U-20 Women’s World Cup and FIFA Vice-President; Tatjana Haenni, FIFA Deputy Director of the Competitions Division and Head of Women’s Competitions; Victor Montagliani, Chairman of the National Organising Committee (NOC) and Canadian Soccer Association President; and Peter Montopoli, Chief Executive of the National Organising Committee and General Secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association.

David Chung
I have visited all four host cities and enjoyed the matches I’ve seen. Overall, I would say the tournament has been a success in terms of organisation and the level of the football, and I would like to thank the National Organising Committee for helping achieve this. I have also been very impressed by the dedication commitment of volunteers and would like to thank them for their contribution. Key to this tournament is the development of young talent and we have seen lots of good players on show. I would like to congratulate tomorrow’s finalists on reaching this stage of the tournament and stress again how important this tournament is for the development of women’s football.

On the use of artificial turf for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, and whether such surfaces could also be used for the men’s FIFA World Cup™
According to FIFA’s competition regulations, the hosts have a choice whether to recommend to us for approval the use of artificial or natural grass. That is the case for all FIFA tournaments: men’s and women’s.

Tatjana HaenniMy thanks go to the Canadian Soccer Association and the National Organising Committee for all the work they have done. It’s a long process in the lead-up to these tournaments – or two tournaments in this case – and we are really happy to see the outcome of all the hard work. At FIFA, we’re quite happy with this competition so far: the teams have performed well on the pitch, and off the pitch things have also gone well. This tournament has also been very important in terms of preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and on some operational issues – mainly adjusting to the size of the country – we really have learned a lot. There are some areas we know we can improve on but generally speaking we’re very satisfied with how everything has gone. We’re really looking forward to next year now and I have no doubt that this will also be a really great event.

Victor Montagliani
I’d like to first and foremost thank our FIFA colleagues not only for the opportunity to host this prestigious competition, but also for their support throughout the tournament and in the build-up. Our stadiums, our training grounds and three of our host cities for 2015 have been tested and, like FIFA, we’re very satisfied. From a Canadian point of view, we’re happy with the run our own team had and don’t be surprised see a lot of these players, not just for us but for the other teams, back playing at next year’s senior event. We’re also really pleased with attendances, particularly for Canada matches, which averaged 16,000 and culminated in over 22,000 turning out for our quarter-final against Germany. Throughout the tournament there have been over 250,000 spectators and we’re very pleased with the following it’s had. For us, it was very important to use this tournament not only as a launching pad for next year but to treat it with the status a World Cup deserved.

On the issue of artificial turf and the prospects of it being used in a potential Canada-hosted men’s FIFA World CupI think the best person to answer that is the Germany coach (Maren Meinert), and what she said on this issue was that the best surface is surface you win on. I know players in other tournaments with natural grass have complained about the quality of the surfaces there. That’s the nature of players. The truth is that our bid went in according to FIFA regulations, and we’re focusing only on this current tournament and next year. As for 2026 or other possible future bids, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, our focus is building on the success of this year and having stadiums full for next year.

Peter Montopoli
We’re very excited that, now this tournament is almost completed, to be looking ahead to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is just ten months away. Right now, qualification is ongoing – several teams have already booked their places – and we are just 18 days away from tickets and stadium passports going on sale on 10 September for all six venues: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. For the past three weeks, we’ve tested three of those venues with great success. Stadium passports will range from $160 to $395 and the average price here in Montreal will be just over $17 per ticket. So as we get ready for the matches this weekend, we’re also looking ahead to 2015 and what that will bring not only for Canada, but for the globe.

Meinert: Germany must stay true to our style( 23 Aug 2014

Germany have appeared at every FIFA U-20 Woman’s World Cup and lifted the title in 2004 and 2010. Here in Canada, the European side have reached the final of the tournament for the third time in a row, where they will face Nigeria, opponents very familiar to coach Maren Meinert.

Capped 92 times for her country and a World Cup winner in 2003, Meinert was at the helm four years ago when Germany beat the Super Falconets 2-0 in Bielefeld to lift the U-20 trophy.

Before Sunday’s showdown in Montreal, Meinert took time out to speak to Ms Meinert, in this tournament you have played against teams from a wide variety of confederations. What kind of game are you expecting on Sunday?A physical one. We know that they’re athletic and have unbelievably quick players. It’ll come down to us staying true to our style, focusing on working as a team and not too much on moments of individualism.

You already mentioned that Nigeria have some very quick players. What do you think are their other strengths?
They defend very well and counter-attack quickly. They can change positions without losing an overview of the game. That’s not an ability many teams have. In addition they’re very secure in defence and, as such, are very tough to beat.

How are you preparing your team for the match?
Recuperation is the most important thing at the moment. We’ve played a long tournament and not used many substitutes. The [first-choice] players have already gone through a lot. On Friday, we spent our last training session before the final one in the stadium fine-tuning our preparations for the game against Nigeria. 

Four years ago you also played Nigeria in the final. What was special about the World Cup in 2010 and how would you compared the team here in Canada?
There are many similarities. In 2010, we had a team which really enjoyed playing a tournament in their own country. The team at that time was very offensive, had a great spirit and really embraced the event. And it’s the same this time. Before the World Cup we had problems – real problems – but when we got here we acted as a unit and have faced everything in the way I had imagined.

What’s your assessment of your team’s performances so far?
I’m extremely satisfied. I think we’re having a great tournament. Especially when you look at our path through the competition. In the USA, China, Brazil, hosts Canada and France, who might be the best team in the world at the moment, we’ve played some great teams. Nigeria are another.

What’s the best moment of the tournament for you so far?
There have been many. But scoring a little unexpectedly against France just before the final whistle; well, that was special. You could see that in the reaction of the players. People were besides themselves with joy, so I suppose that’s got to be the highlight so far.

In the semi-final, Meike Kamper performed brilliantly, keeping France at bay on numerous occasions. How do you see the development of the level of goalkeeping in women’s football?
We’ve already seen that goalkeepers have massively improved in the women’s game. You can see that in various ways. There are less shots from distance going in and play down the flanks also seems to have improved. You can see the same development in the juniors. It’s also noticeable that they’re all good on the ball. This wasn’t the case before. We’ve seen great progress in this area.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is already looming on the horizon and one or two players from your squad may well end up appearing there. Do you decide together with Silvia Neid who might be considered?The senior coach watches all our games and was also there during the preparation phase. She knows the players very well and is always open to ideas. Of course I know the players better. She looks out for what she likes and I give a little input. This process extends over the whole year. Over the last year, Silvia has given a lot of young players a chance, which is good for us. If you look at our team from the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 it was extremely young. Now I hope that one or two players from this team in Canada will succeed in stepping up to the next level. 

Uchechi gunning for revenge( 23 Aug 2014

“I remember that game,” said Nigeria’s Uchechi Sunday, casting her mind back four years to the final between the Super Falconets and the host nation at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010. “I was on the bench feeling really nervous and apprehensive, hoping that my team would score.”

Her team did not score, with Die Mannschaft running out 2-0 winners. But as fate would have it, Sunday and her team-mates will have the opportunity to avenge that result in Montreal tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a different story this time,” she vowed to “In 2010 they were playing at home, with all their fans behind them, but that won’t be the case here. This final against Germany is also coming at a good time for me, because I’ve got a lot more experience now.”

Sunday was a mere 15-year-old when she represented her country at Germany 2010 and is the only member of Nigeria’s Canada 2014 squad who was present at those finals. “I was the youngest player in the team but I had two friends with me and they helped me a lot during the competition,” she explained. “They kept encouraging me the whole time.”

Older and wiser, Sunday is now offering support to her most inexperienced team-mates and to the team as a whole, chipping in with three goals despite having started every game on the bench, two of those strikes coming straight after entering the fray. Though happy with her haul, she still has one objective to fulfil: “I usually score a lot of goals with my head but I haven’t got one in Canada yet. Maybe it’ll come on Sunday.”

Doing it the hard way
As she went on to explain, Sunday has had to fight hard to get where she is today: “I started out playing in the street with the boys after school. We played on dirt pitches. Then I enrolled at an academy but it’s not easy to play football in Nigeria, especially if you’re a girl. What you need in situations like that is for your parents to support you, which is what mine did. It gives you the strength to carry on.”

The forward was rewarded for her perseverance with that trip to Germany 2010 and a call-up to the full national team in 2011, though she missed out on a place in the U-20 side that travelled to Japan 2012, a setback that has only stiffened her resolve ahead of Sunday’s showdown. “This final is very special for me,” she said in anticipation of it.

The Super Falconets have been preparing for the occasion for a long time, having already spent three months away from their families. “It’s a lot easier thanks to mobiles and the internet,” said Sunday. “I talk to them a lot on Skype and they’re very happy for me. When we speak my mother always shouts: ‘Hey that’s my daughter! You’re doing great. I’m very proud of you’.”

Bursting into a laugh, Sunday added: “I tell you one thing: I can’t wait to get home. I’m dying to see them all, especially my mum.”

Nigeria not alone
When she returns to her home town of Port Harcourt, Sunday will go back to watching her beloved Liverpool. “They’re my team! I love the way they play, and I adore Steven Gerrard and the whole ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ thing.”

Nigeria have not been walking alone in Canada, where a loyal band of fans has been cheering them on at every match and is sure to be doing so again come the final in Montreal.

For their part, the players are planning to repeat their customary pre-match ritual and sing and dance their way to the Olympic Stadium. “We have to sing and dance even more this Sunday,” said the fun-loving forward. “We have to make even more noise.”

Rounding off our chat on a typically optimistic note, Sunday spoke of her hopes of avenging that final defeat four years ago: “The only thing that’s in my mind is that I can’t lose two finals, and both of them to Germany. We’ve got to win this Sunday. I don’t care how. And we’re going to do it too.”