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All eyes on Amman as U-17 Women’s World Cup starts

By Muath Freij - Sep 29,2016 - Last updated at Sep 30,2016

A worker sets up the corner flag at the Amman International Stadium in the capital on Thursday Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — Amman will be the centre of attention on Friday when the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 kicks off, with an "entertaining opening ceremony" in store for football fans, organisers said on Thursday.

Samar Nassar, the CEO of the Local Organising Committee, said the ceremony starts at 7:30pm ahead of the start of the match between the host country and Spain, the runner-up of the previous UEFA Cup.

“We are holding an international celebration, which will be attended by HRH Prince Ali. We want also to let you know that renowned Spanish player Xavi [Hernández] is attending the event and he will interact with the fans,” she told reporters.

The national team will clash with Spain at Amman International Stadium after the end of the opening ceremony, with thousands of fans expected in attendance.

The stadium has a capacity of 16,000 but only 14,000 chairs will be used, according to Nassar.

“Maybe in the past stage there were concerns over infrastructure and whether we would be ready for the contest. I think all of you are now relieved that our facilities are ready to host this event,” she added.

Tatjana Haenni, FIFA head of Women’s Football, described the tournament as a “unique opportunity” for football and all segments of society.

“It is unique to be in this region... and we really can see already some successes in Jordan but also in the neighbouring countries... We hope the tournament inspires more girls to play football, but also more families — moms and dads — to support the girls in practising sports,” she added.

“The message to the world is that we are playing women's football in Jordan; we are 16 teams in a wonderful country with wonderful hosts... and we try to pass on the message that women’s football needs support almost everywhere in the world and there is a long way to go,” Haenni said.

Prior to the opening ceremony on Friday, Venezuela takes on Germany at 3pm at Al Hassan International Stadium in Irbid, 80km north of Amman, while Mexico plays New Zealand at Amman International Stadium at 5pm.

At 6pm on the same day, Cameroon takes on Canada at Al Hassan International Stadium.

On Saturday, Nigeria plays Brazil at Amman's King Abdullah II International Stadium at 3pm, while England faces off against North Korea at 6pm at the same stadium.

At the Prince Mohammad International Stadium in Zarqa, Ghana plays Japan at 4pm on the same day, while the US takes on Paraguay at 7pm.

The championship concludes on October 21.

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