Friday 12 January 2018, 08:10

South Americans vie for two tickets to France

Ecuador is all set to host the eighth edition of the South American U-20 Women’s Championship, where ten nations will be competing for two berths at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018.

The tournament in brief:

  • When: 13-31 January

  • Where: The Ecuadorian cities of Riobamba, Ibarra and Ambato

  • Who: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru (Group A); Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela (Group B).

  • What’s at stake: Two places at the U-20 World Cup in France.

  • How: After a round-robin format in the two groups of five, the top two from each section will advance to a four-team final round. The round-robin format will again be used to decide the winner and runner-up, who qualify directly for France 2018.

The favourites Having won all seven previous editions of the tournament, Brazil are understandably the region’s top dogs and natural candidates to claim the title in Ecuador. Furthermore, 11 of the Auriverde squad played at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Jordan 2016 where, despite not going beyond the group phase, they amassed the kind of experience that will be vital in the Sudamericano.

The other strong candidates are Venezuela, who come into the event with the nucleus of the squad that finished fourth at the above mentioned World Cup in Jordan and are coached by the same Jose Catoya, who guided them to the last edition of the U-20 World Cup. Led by Deyna Castellanos, who was shortlisted for the The Best FIFA Women’s Player award in 2017, the Vinotinto will be aiming to improve on their 2015 result, when they missed out on winning the South American U-20 title by a goal difference of 1.

Not quite at the same level but with aspirations of their own are Colombia and Paraguay. While the U-20 Cafeteras are fresh from beating Ecuador in the final of the Juegos Bolivarianos (Bolivarian Games) last November, Paraguay went unbeaten in four friendlies against Argentina (twice) and Uruguay (twice) played in preparation for the Sudamericano.

Players to watch While Deyna Castellanos will be the focus of much attention, Venezuela’s attacking midfielders Daniuska Rodriguez and Yerliane Moreno are two more to keep a close eye on.

For Brazil, defender Thais Reiss, midfielder Ana Vitoria and forward Kerolin stand out, while Paraguayan striker Jessica Martinez is another to watch for, having performed very well at U-17 level.

Another quartet who could also make a splash at the Sudamericano are Colombia’s deep-lying midfielder Marieth Perez, Ecuador midfielder Joselyn Espinales, Argentina defender Luana Munoz and Peru goalkeeper Mia Shalit.

Did you know…?

  • Of the 22 players Venezuela have brought to Ecuador, 15 have already played in a U-17 or U-20 World Cup.

  • Ecuador coach Vanessa Arauz is still the youngest person to coach a national team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. That milestone, which she achieved at Canada 2015 aged just 26, earned her a Guinness World Record.

  • Chile will be hoping for a return to the U-20 Women’s World Cup ten years on from hosting the tournament.

  • Colombia have not qualified since 2010, Argentina since 2012 and Paraguay since 2014.

  • Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru have never competed in a Women's World Cup at this age level.