The 10th FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Costa Rica on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
The tournament will see 16 nations vying for the ultimate with 32 matches played across 19 days.
The opening day will see Germany play Colombia and New Zealand meet Mexico.
Concluding the day will be two huge Group A matches: after Brazil face Spain, host nation Costa Rica will take on Australia.
The Ghana aim
Ghana’s U-20 women’s team will be making a historic sixth consecutive appearance at the global showpiece.
The Black Princesses will play against USA in their opening group game on Thursday, before taking on Japan and the Netherlands in the subsequent Group D matches.
Having failed to go past the group stage in all previous five attempts, the team is keen to overcome that hurdle and advance to the knockout stages of this year’s edition.
“We were far from the competition but here we are very close to the tournament and we have to let the players know that we are close to the World so we have to psych them,” head coach of the side Ben Fokuo said following their friendly game against France.
On the players’ side, Mukarama Abdulai, who is the general captain of the team, has urged Ghanaians to throw their support behind the team.
Mukarama Abdulai in action for Ghana during the 2017 U-17 Women’s World Cup
“[They] should keep pushing their support behind us. They should always put their prayers behind us [because] we need it. Without them, we can’t do it alone,” she added.
How Ghana qualified for the World Cup
The Black Princesses booked their ticket to the tournament after beating Ethiopia 2-1 at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, March 27, in the final game of the qualifiers.
En route to qualifying, Fokuo’s side beat Zambia, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Northern Ladies’ Salamatu Abdulai was the top scorer in the qualifiers after netting six times in six games.
The African challenge
Hoisting the flag of Africa will be two west African countries: Nigeria and Ghana.
Nigeria’s U20 girls, Falconets have been drawn to face France and Canada in the group stage of this year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
Nigeria is among four countries to have played in all previous nine editions of the U-20 Women’s World Cup, along with Germany, Brazil and USA.
Nigeria have also finished as runners-up on two occasions – 2010 and 2014.
Key superstar tournament alumnae
The U-20 Women’s World Cup has seen the development stages of some of the world’s best stars in the past.
Brazil’s Marta first made a name for herself on the world stage at Canada 2002, when the then 16-year-old scored six goals to take Brazil to a surprise fourth-place finish at the U-19 Women’s World Championship in Canada. It was to be the start of an incredible career.
Megan Rapinoe announced her arrival in world football with three goals at Thailand 2004, including one in the third-place play-off against Brazil.
In Chile 2008, Alex Morgan scored four goals for USA. Her fourth was the game-winning goal that gave the USA the victory and earned her the honour of Tournament Goal of the Tournament. Her efforts won her the Adidas Silver Ball as the second-best player behind teammate Sydney Leroux and the Adidas Bronze Boot as the third-highest scorer in the competition.
Estadio Nacional, located in Costa Rica’s capital city of San José, and Estadio Morera Sota in Alajuela, will serve as host stadiums for the tournament.
The winners of the tournament will crowned 18 days later with the final set to take place at San José’s Estadio Nacional on Sunday, 28 August.
Four countries have been crowned FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup champions since the competition’s inception in 2002, including Germany, Japan, Korea DPR and the U.S.