The semi-final stage of the FIFA Women's U17 World Cup saw no surprises as both pre-match predicted winners Japan and Korea DPR advanced to the final with solid wins over Spain and Venezuela respectively.
Korea silence Castellanos and advance to the final
Venezuelan captain Deyna Castellanos had found the back of the net in every match so far in this tournament but against the Koreans, she could not find a way past their solid back line and could only watch as her team succumbed to a 3-0 loss to the previous U17 World Cup champions. Kim Pom-ui opened the scoring for Korea in the 15th minute and after that, the Koreans never looked back as they produced a sublime performance to catapult them to the final.
Ja Un-yong then scored the second of the match in the 72nd minute and the Koreans finished it off through leading tournament goal scorer Ri Hae-yon in the 89th minute. Hae-yon now has the chance to win the Golden Ball as both Castellanos and Spain's Lorena Navarro cannot add to their total of five goals. Although she did not add her name to the score sheet, Sung Hyang Sim was the player of match as she created chances for her teammates to then capitalise on.
Japan set to repeat after win against Spain
The current holders of the U17 World Cup title, Japan, made sure of their progress to the final after a 3-0 win over Spain. Hana Takahashi, who was awarded the player of the match award after her performance, got her second goal of the tournament in the 14th minute and then followed that with her third of the tournament after Spain's Laia Aleixandri fouled in the box to give away a penalty in the 79th minute.
The other goal of the game came from defender Lucia Rodriguez in the 48th minute as she inadvertently put the ball in her own net. Spain's goalkeeper, Noelie Ramos who had been outstanding so far, was helpless against Japan's relentless pressure and and even though she tried her best to keep the score down, still allowed three goals past her.
A fantastic final awaits all
Japan have played arguably the best football in the tournament and have been rewarded for that play with a berth in the final. The Japanese program continues to develop some technically gifted players who work well as a unit and because of this, this edition of the Japanese U17 team look set to repeat their title win from 2014. It will not be an easy task as Korea DPR are perennial finalists at the U17 stage and have also won the title back in 2008.
The Korean DPR women's program is beginning to find it's feet again and that is being reflected in their performance at the tournament this year. The stage is set for a great final to top off what has been a good advertisement of the women's game in Jordan.