Another historic FIFA World Cup launched in a new corner of the world. This time, it is the turn of the U-20 Women’s teams in Papa New Guinea.
It surely kicked off with a bang as 22 goals were scored in the four opening games. If that was not dramatic enough, the goals were shared by the four winning teams as none of the losing teams could manage a consolation goal.
Group A - Papa New Guinea 0-9 Brazil
While the 12,547 people in attendance, many of which locals, had plenty to get excited about as the exhilarating opening ceremony celebrated the vibrant culture of Papa New Guinea, the match was somewhat less jubilant.
Brazil picked apart an inexperienced but brave PNG side as they netted six goals from all kinds of play. Duda who coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net, managed one. However, she did open the floodgates allowing three of her teammates to score braces (Brena, Gabi Nunes and Yasmim).
Five minutes after the first, the second came for Brazil. This time Nunes was left to run free in PNG's box as she clattered home Katrine's divine cross with a powerful header. The number seven who provided the wonder assist would get her chance to score in the additional time of the first half. She flexed her natural flare for attacking play, taking the ball around the keeper and then beating Gloria Laeli with a sharp strike from a tricky angle.
The pattern continued, one after the other Including a penalty and a beautiful curling free kick until it was 6-0 and only half time. Brazil did not take their foot off the gas and made life worse for PNG. They scored another three after the break, levelling with Korea DPR’s record 9-0 win over Argentina in 2012.
Despite the very heavy defeat, the spirit of the Papa New Guinea fans was not dampened as they still cheered in bursts whenever their team were in possession- which only happened for 37 pc of the game.
Sweden 0-2 Korea DPR
There was a healthy crowd of 4,944 football fans in the Sir John Guise Stadium there to see the closest tie of the opening day as Korea DPR overcame Sweden with two goals crafted from cohesive team play.
DPR's campaign launched with dominant displays of control and creativity. It took just 25 minutes for the attacking force to break the Swede's defensive concentration. Ri Hyang Sim bustled her way through the backline to meet Kim So Hyang's clever pass. When Sim arrived, she hit the ball with a fierce strike, it was going nowhere but the back of the net.
The heroics of Swedish goalkeeper Emma Holmgren kept the European side in the game for the remaining 20 minutes of the first half. Korea DPR were innovative in their attack, coming at Holmgren's box from different angles and ranges but the shot stopper made several superb saves to deny the advances. Three minutes after the break Sweden were caught out once again. This time Kim So Hyang made an unstoppable tap in to double the lead.
Sweden improved in the second half but the performance failed to materalise into goals as the tactics of North Korea were too much for star striker, Stina Blackstenius.
Group B - Spain 5-0 Canada
Spain got off on the right foot with a five goal cushion as they dominated Canada throughout Group B's first game. Canada now have to pick up the pieces if they have any hope of going through to the knock out phase...
Maria Caldentey gave Spain the advantage as she opened the scoring up just two minutes into a game. The forward oozed control as her a perfect first touch on her chest from ng the hefty pass that leapt over Canada's midfield and defence took her right into the danger zone. She sped through the middle of Mika Richards and Marike Mousset and when presented with the opportunity to hit the ball around keeper Rylee Foster, she snatched it with sheer confidence.
Despite the fact Spain took the reins on this match, the Canadians were able to fend the attacking advances away, though frantic at times. When the clock struck for the 30th minute, Spain hit again. Another high ball penetrated the penalty box with Lucia Garcia there with the Zlatan-esque touch, extending her leg to hit the ball on the outside of her boot, on the volley.
Three more goals came in the second half despite Canada's perseverance, which included a disallowed goal from substitute Alexandria Lamontagne, that goal would have made the scoreline 2-1 which could have changed the game. However, following that Spain hammered in another two and in the fifth minute of additional time L. Garcia earned a brace, almost as pretty as her first half wonder goal. Her first touch was clumsy as the ball bounced to the ground but on her second attempt, she hit it right in the sweet spot - angling a perfect lob over Foster.
Japan 6-0 Nigeria
The top two teams of Group B look healthy in their goal difference as Japan followed on from Spain's brutal reign at Bava Park as they hit Nigeria for six.
Japan's performance was bold from the onset, they piled the pressure onto the Flamingoes who dealt with it well, for 34' minutes. That is when Yuka Momiki found the first opening as she read the dip of a high flying cross perfectly, getting down low to guide the ball into the back of the net. Just three minutes later Mami Ueno paraded a clinical edge in Nigeria's box as she met skipper Ruka Norimatsu's perfect pass with a touch to split four defenders.
Ueno earned herself the tournament's first hattrick with goals either side of the break, while Momiki added herself to the cluster of players that have scored two goals so far with a goal on the other side of the half.
In addition to a brace, Yuka Momiki consolidated her Player of the Match performance with a perfect freekick. The curling ball brushed the tip of Sandra Chiichii's gloves but it was simply not enough to stop the ball from rocketing into the back of the net.
The fifth goal was an unfortunate to be stamped with own goal as Mary Ologbsere faintly touched. The Young Nadeshiko put on cruise control for the remainder of the game, picking up another through Ueno's striking ability. Now they stand in good stead to face their top of the table rivals, Spain.