By Paul Nicholson
October 21 – Asia will have a new world champion tonight in a FIFA competition the Asian Football Confederation has dominated since its inception. The final of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, being played in Amman, Jordan, features defending champions Japan against AFC champions DPR Korea.
AFC nations have won the U17 Women’s World Cup three of the four times it has been played: 2008 – North Korea, 2010 – South Korea, 2014 – Japan. In 2012 North Korea lost to France in the final in Azerbaijan.
The 2017 edition of the championship has taken the tournament to a new level both in terms of organisation and quality with FIFA’s Director of Women’s competitions Tatjana Haenni saying “this tournament has been a real success…We have, of course, talked a lot about legacy and I’m pleased to say that what we anticipated at the start of this tournament has come to pass.
“There has been so much that has gone on – infrastructure improvements, upgrades in stadium and training grounds, education and development work, Live Your Goals courses, social projects with refugees – and all of it has been done to ensure we leave a genuine legacy.”
Crucial to any tournament’s success is attendance at matches and Haenni said that from this perspective it has “been a huge success. From what I understand, there has been a change in culture witnessed at this tournament. I know that, previously, it was only men – real hardcore football fans – who went to the stadiums to watch matches.
“Here, we have seen lots of families at the matches, with women, girls and boys all enjoying the football in a nice environment. Filling stadiums for women’s youth football matches is a challenge everywhere in the world. Considering the background here in Jordan, I think the LOC have done extremely well in this respect, and hopefully we will see even more spectators when Jordan hosts the AFC Women’s Championship in 2018.”
The Japanese and North Korean teams competing in the final are both unbeaten, though the Koreans did draw against England in their group matches.
North Korea knocked out Ghana and then Venezuela 3-0 in the semi-final. Japan have yet to lose a match beating Europe’s England and then Spain, both by 3-0 margins, to qualify for the final.
Spain and Venezuela will battle for third place.
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