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Holders take to the stage

The reigning champions, USA, take to the stage on day two of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany as Groups C and D begin their campaigns. It seems sure to be a day that will tell us a lot more about the strength of the challenges to America’s crown with highly-rated Japan, fast-improving Switzerland and England, last year’s UEFA European Women’s U-19 champions, also in action.
The big game
USA-Ghana, Dresden, Wednesday 14 July, 18.00 (local time)
The US begin in Group D against Ghana and will hope to extend their amazing sequence in the competition which has seen them win 20 of their 24 games (two of the other four games ended as draws and subsequent defeat via a penalty shoot-out). The teams have never met at any level in the women’s game but Ghana demonstrated in the qualifying campaign, in which they won all four of their games, scoring eight goals and not conceding one, that they are not without their own claims in Germany.
The other games
The first Group D game pits Switzerland, who have yet to win a match at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup but who have gained confidence through their run to the semi-finals of last year’s UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship in which they beat Germany 3-0, with Korea Republic. Choi In-Chul’s team are making their re-appearance having last appeared at Thailand 2004.
In Group C the action starts in Augsburg at 11.30 when England face a Nigeria team fresh from another formidable qualifying campaign in which they won all four games to finish on top of the CAF qualifying berths, maintaining their run of victories which now stretches to 18 in 20 games and dates back to the end of 2001. Under Mo Marley the England team are building an impressive reputation at youth level and will be looking to follow up last summer’s success in Belarus.
At 14.30 Mexico play Japan and at least three goals can be expected with no match involving El Tri in this competition yielding fewer than that amount. The CONCACAF team have won just one of their nine games during three previous participations. Big things are expected of Japan’s Mana Iwabuchi who was awarded the adidas Golden Ball in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup New Zealand 2008 which was some achievement considering her team were not in the top four and she was not among the leading scorers.
The stat

20 –
With 20 wins in 24 games, USA lead the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup all-time ranking.
The words

“We’ve come prepared but we know that every single team are going to come out hard and will be competitive against us. They will give us their best game and we want that, we don’t want anything less than their best,” Sydney Leroux, USA striker.

Matches on Wednesday 14 July 2010

England–Nigeria (11.30)
Mexico–Japan (14.30)

Switzerland–Korea Republic (15.00)
USA–Ghana (18.00)

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