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FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup kicks off

By Aline Bannayan - Sep 29,2016 - Last updated at Sep 29,2016

Preparations for the opening ceremony of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Jordan 2016 are under way on Thursday at Amman International Stadium (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — Jordanians are eagerly anticipating Friday’s kick-off of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 in their capital regardless of how tough the Jordan versus Spain match could be. 

Hosting a FIFA World Cup event is a success for the Kingdom and women’s sports in the region. The mere fact that this competition, the first of its kind to take place in the Middle East, is being held in Jordan is a great source of pride for fans and citizens in general after Jordan beat bids from Uruguay, South Africa, Ireland and Bahrain. 

Jordan will be competing at this level for the first time, and many anticipate a series of heavy defeats await as the squad has only played in the national league or during the qualifying campaign for the AFC U-16 Women’s Asian Cup. Now they will be coming head-to-head with some of the best teams in the world and it’s no easy task. But their coach Briton Robbie Johnson is stressing the historic nature of their upcoming U-17 Women’s World Cup debut with his line-up joining the world’s top 15 teams playing for the title in the competition running until October 21. 

Johnson was quoted by FIFA.com underlining that the opening match will be “momentous for the girls”. He added: “We’ve prepared extremely well and played Venezuela and Brazil in similar conditions to those we’ll experience at this World Cup. We lost those two matches, but that doesn’t really concern me. The girls have learnt a lot from taking on big teams that are also going to be taking part in the competition.” 

Jordan will face Spain September 30 in the opener at the Amman International Stadium. The Kingdom will also play Mexico on October 3 and New Zealand on October 7 in the first round.

“They shouldn’t be afraid of playing at this level. They’re going to put into practice what they’ve been learning for the last few months at our training camps. I’ve got confidence in them and I know that they have the necessary fighting spirit to achieve what some say is impossible,” coach Johnson added.

The 32 matches over the course of 22 days will be hosted at four stadia: The Amman International Stadium, King Abdullah II Stadium in Qweismeh, Al Hassan Stadium in Irbid and Prince Mohammad Stadium in Zarqa. Jordan will be playing its matches in different governorates on Fridays with the match slated against Mexico in Irbid and the one against New Zealand in Zarqa. 

Jordan will be the only Arab team at the U-17 World Cup after Egypt and Morocco were eliminated in the qualifiers. The 16 teams were divided into four groups with the top two teams from each group moving on to Round 2. Round 1 ends October 8 following which the quarters will be played on October 12-13, the semis on October 17 and the final on October 21. In addition to Group A, competing teams are Group B: Venezuela, Germany, Cameron and Canada, Group C: Nigeria, Brazil, England and North Korea, Group D: US, Paraguay, Ghana and titleholders Japan.

None of the hosts of the U-17 Women’s World Cup have managed to advance past the first round of the competition so far. Azerbaijan and Costa Rica lost all three of their matches in the last two editions respectively. Similarly, Jordan’s line-up has a tough challenge but some observers think there might be surprises. 

“In football, you can’t promise anything when it comes to results,” explained Johnson. “You plan everything out, and then it all unravels on the pitch. I am sure, though, that the girls will give 100 per cent. They’re keen to get going with the tournament and have shown great commitment. They’ve got the right mindset to forget about past mistakes and the determination to show what they’re capable of.”

Women’s teams have been competing in all age divisions in the Asian zone. In 2007, Jordan qualified to the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship as the only Arab team but in 2014, was eliminated from Group A qualifiers for the 2015 championship. 

 

The U-16 team qualified to the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in 2013 but failed to qualify to the 2015 championship. This year, the U-16 team failed to qualify to the AFC U-16 Championship.

FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP RECORD

Year    Venue                    Winner (Runner-up)

2008    New Zealand            North Korea (USA)

2010    Trinidad & Tobago    South Korea (Japan)

2012    Azerbaijan               France (North Korea)

 

2014    Costa Rica               Japan (Spain) 

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