Thursday 05 March 2020, 03:54

Newcomers challenging Concacaf old hands

  • Hosts Dominican Republic seeking to extend historic campaign against USA

  • Haiti take on Mexico

  • At stake: Two tickets for this year’s FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

In one semi-final, you have the experience of regional champions Mexico versus the ambition of Haiti to reach their second World Cup in this category. In the other, a multi-title winning USA team go up against a Dominican Republic side hugely motivated to make history in front of their home support.

These eagerly-awaited semi-finals at the Concacaf U-20 Women's Championship take place on Friday 6 March and will decide which two sides join co-hosts Costa Rica and Panama at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2020. previews the two semi-finals.

[[flag-usa-s]] USA vs Dominican Republic [[flag-dom-s]]

Dominican Republic in uncharted territory

Regardless of what happens from here on, the hosts' achievements at this championship will live long in the memory. After becoming the first team from the Dominican Republic to reach the quarter-finals of a Concacaf competition, the U-20s made more history by then advancing to the semi-finals and to within 90 minutes of a World Cup spot.

The Caribbean islanders will be pinning their hopes on Mia Asenjo and Alyssa Oviedo, who both play in the United States and therefore know their semi-final opponents well. The performance of Oviedo, in particular, will be crucial. Not only is she team captain and already capped by the senior team, but she also featured in the last edition of this tournament two years ago, when she weighed in with six goals.

No let up for the Stars and Stripes

USA, for their part, will be out to end the hosts' historic run and can take encouragement from the 4-0 win they enjoyed over the same opponents during the group phase.

The three-time world champions in this age category have been in imperious form throughout the qualifying competition, racking up 34 goals across five games without conceding once.

[[flag-mex-s]] Mexico vs Haiti [[flag-hai-s]]

Haiti hoping to consolidate

After several failed attempts to qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, Haiti finally graced the competition two years ago to underline the remarkable progress made by their youth teams. However, if they want to show the world that they are here to stay, they will have to prevail against defending Concacaf champions Mexico.

Their strongest suit is a potent offence spearheaded by Melchie Dumornay. Though still just 16, she currently leads the tournament’s scoring charts with 13 goals and knows what it is like to compete at the highest level, having represented her country at the U-20 World Cup two years ago in France. This, combined with a well-drilled defence that has not yet been breached in this competition, could cause quite a few problems for El Tri.

Mexico aiming to retain title

After steering the national team to the runners-up spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Uruguay 2018, Monica Vergara took up the reins of the U-20s to consolidate the development of that young generation.

The group is very clear about their ultimate objective, which is to win the world title. However, to achieve this, they must first secure qualification by demonstrating the qualities the team are well renowned for: a strong emphasis on link-up play, huge physical commitment, and proven ability to convert their chances.

The path to the semi-finals

  • [[flag-mex-s]] Mexico: Winner of Group D with nine points and a goal difference of +8, they then beat Grenada 12-1 in the last 16 and Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 in the quarter-finals.

  • [[flag-usa-s]] USA: Winner of Group C with nine points and goal difference of +24, they continued in that vein in the knockout phase, first eliminating St. Lucia (6-0) and then Canada (4-0).

  • [[flag-hai-s]] Haiti: After going undefeated to win Group F (+22 goal difference), they routed Barbados (12-0) in the last 16 before defeating Guyana 3-0 in the quarters.

  • [[flag-dom-s]] Dominican Republic: Second in Group C behind USA, they then defeated El Salvador (4-1) and advanced to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Jamaica.

The quote...

"First and foremost, we’re concentrating on securing a ticket to the World Cup. After that we can we think about the title. It’ll be an extremely tough match in which the team that plays best and makes fewest mistakes will prevail. We're ready." Alison Gonzalez, Mexico striker