Who will be crowned 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions?
Unlike its senior counterpart, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is held every two years, which gives fans a regular opportunity to discover the rising stars of the game. Since the inaugural edition of the competition in 2002, only three nations have lifted the trophy. USA won the first tournament in Canada, and triumphed again in Chile in 2008. Germany were the victors in Thailand in 2004 and again on home soil in 2010, while Korea DPR went all the way in Russia in 2006.
This trio of footballing powers figure among the favourites as the sixth edition of the tournament gets underway in Japan on Sunday, but there are a number of other sides who are harbouring hopes of lifting the trophy for the first time.
Canada, for example, are on a high after winning a bronze medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London. China PR are looking to get out of a tough group that includes both USA and Germany, and should they manage that, will have their eyes on the top prize.
Brazil, meanwhile, are looking to transfer their continental dominance to the global stage, while Korea Republic are able to draw on the nucleus of their world-conquering U-17 side of 2010.
Focus too, of course, will be on the host nation which is still riding high after the Nadeshiko were crowned world champions in 2011, and followed that up with a silver medal in London earlier this month.
Nigeria were beaten finalists as recently as 2010, and will be hoping to go one step further this time, while Ghana have been progressing steadily since they were knocked out at the group stage last time around. Norway, Mexico and New Zealand cannot be counted out either, so the tournament really is wide open.FIFA