In November 2018, the women’s world cup for under 17s will take place in the cities of Colonia del Sacramento, Maldonado and Montevideo in Uruguay. Although the championship, organized by FIFA, does not have the mega viewership of the men’s over 21 World Cup, it is very quickly gaining popularity, particularly in nations where the men’s teams do not fare so well.
A Brief History
With a growing interest in women’s football, FIFA decided to organize the first U17 World Cup in 2008 New Zealand. That year, the North Korean team won the championship. Since then, it has been organized every two years, in the even-numbered year.
The participating teams are selected from selected qualifying tournaments held across the six confederations of football, which are head by FIFA. Five of the confederations organize special under-17 championships, except Asia’s AFC, which uses the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship to pick the participants.
This Year’s Teams
A total of 16 teams will be competing this year to lift the coveted cup at the end of the championship. Matches are organized similarly to other global tournaments, with group stages followed by finals.
The women’s under-17 world cup welcomes teams not normally associated with men’s football, including South Africa and North Korea. North Koreans, in fact, are the most successful team, having won two titles so far. They also remain favorites for this year’s event.
The first match of the competition will see Ghana play against the host nation, Uruguay. Ghana had done extremely well in the qualifying matches, scoring a total of 19 goals against their opponents, Djibouti. Neither team has yet won the winner’s title, however, Ghana has come in 3rd in the 2012 edition.
Group A, which also includes New Zealand and Finland, is currently the only full group as the other three groups are still awaiting the winners of the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship. These represent teams from North and Central America as well as Carribean nations.
Currently, Group B’s team are Brazil, South Africa, and Brazil. Newer fans of this championship may be forgiven to think that Brazil poses the biggest threat to the other teams. However, it is actually Japan, who have already won the competition in 2014 who are the team to monitor closest.
Group C will see the defending champions, North Korea, battling it out against Germany, Cameroon, and the third team to be selected from the CONCACAF tournament. Whilst the German team have never won the championship, they did place third in 2018.
Finally, Group D sees the Korean Republic, Spain, and Colombia, together with a 4th team. This group is expected to provide the most exciting games since it has at least one previous winner, the Korean Republic, and one previous runner-up, Spain. Games will get even more exciting if the 4th team turns out to be the United States, which is also a previous runner-up and will certainly give the other teams very challenging games.
Naturally, being the only team to have raised the World Cup twice since its recent inception, North Korea is the favorite to win, with odds certainly being in their favor. Apart from winning twice, the country was also a runner-up in the 2012 tournament, proving their appetite to succeed.
The other countries to have ever won the title are Japan, South Korea, and France. The French team did not qualify for the competition this year, so they are certainly not a threat. The other nations, however, have all the right motivation to keep the cup in Asia, especially with improving relations between the countries.
As often happens in such competitions, each African nation that competes does so with the knowledge that they are playing for the entire continent, not just their nation. The pressure this yet is almost certainly on The Black Starlets. So far, Ghana has proved that it can rise up to the challenge and beat the other nations. However, with football being such an unpredictable sport, it is difficult to say what will happen.