U.S. U17s Draw France, Gambia, North Korea.
CHICAGO (July 6, 2012) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team will face France, Gambia and Korea DPR in Group B at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, taking place at six stadiums in Azerbaijan from Sept. 22-Oct. 13. The draw was held at the International Mugam Centre in Azerbaijan’s capital city of .
CONCACAF champion USA, host Azerbaijan, European champion Germany and Asian champion Japan earned seeds. In Group A, Azerbaijan drew Colombia, Nigeria and Canada. Group C features Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Brazil. Group D features Germany, Uruguay, China PR and Ghana.
The Republic of Azerbaijan, which is slightly smaller than the state of Maine and has a population of almost nine million, is located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe and is bound by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. Five of the tournament’s six venues are in Baku with one stadium located about 175 miles south in Lankaran.
The U.S. plays its first Group B match at Lankaran Stadium in Lankaran, opening its tournament on Sept. 22 against France (1 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET) before facing Gambia on Sept. 25 (5 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET) at Dalga Arena in Baku. The USA will finish group play on Sept. 29 against Korea DPR (5 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET) at Bayil Stadium in Baku. Lankaran Stadium features a grass field, but both Dalga Arena and Bayil Stadium have artificial turf surfaces.
“It’s very exciting to have the opportunity for the team to play some of the top countries in the world, especially in group play,” said U.S. U-17 head coach Albertin Montoya. “I’ve seen France and North Korea play in the past year and I would put them in the top five in the world.
“I had the opportunity to watch France in the European U-17 championships and they are very technical and have one of the most special players in the world in their #10. I thought Korea was the best team in Asian qualifying although they lost to Japan on a last-minute goal. They are typically strong all over the field but also athletic, and they will be dangerous. Honestly, we don’t know much about Gambia, but we’ll get a chance to see them play over there before our match.”
The USA’s opening game against an always talented French side will be one of the marquee first-round matchups. The USA and France met in the final game of group play at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, battling to a 1-1 draw that sent the USA through to the quarterfinal and sent the French home.
The meeting with Gambia will be the first against the third-place finishers from Africa at any level for a U.S. Women’s National Team.
The Americans will finish group play against North Korea, the country that won the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008, defeating the USA 2-1 in overtime.
“One thing about this group is that we’re not going to have an opportunity to ease into it,” said Montoya. “We are facing some of the world’s top teams right off the bat and that will help us set the tone for the rest of the tournament. I would call it the Group of Death for sure, but getting to play the best and test ourselves is the exciting part about World Cups. We are looking forward to it, we are prepared and we are ready for the challenge.”
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will feature 16 teams, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
This is the third FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, and the tournaments have been dominated by the two Koreas. North Korea won the inaugural tournament in 2008 in New Zealand, defeating the USA in overtime 2-1 in the championship game and South Korea won the second installment in 2010 in Trinidad & Tobago, defeating Japan in penalty kicks after an entertaining 3-3 tie through regulation and overtime.
The USA missed the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after falling in penalty kicks in the semifinal of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament to Canada despite out-scoring the opposition 38-0 over five games.
2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup
Group A (Baku, Lankaran):
Azerbaijan, Colombia, Nigeria, Canada
Group B (Baku, Lankaran):
France, USA, Korea DPR (North Korea), Gambia
Group C (Baku):
Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan
Group D (Baku, Lankaran):
Uruguay, China PR, Ghana, Germany
- U.S. 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Schedule -
Date, Opponent, Venue, Kickoff
Sept. 22, France Lankaran Stadium; Lankaran, Azerbaijan, 1 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET
Sept. 25, Gambia Dalga Arena; Baku, Azerbaijan, 5 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET
Sept. 29, Korea DPR Bayil Stadium; Baku, Azerbaijan, 5 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET