The road to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 reached an important milestone on Wednesday, as the Official Draw was held in the Auditorium at the Home of FIFA, in Zurich.
Oceania representatives New Zealand, who won last year’s OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Samoa, have been drawn in Group A alongside the hosts Uruguay, Ghana and Finland.
Confirmation of groups
- Group A: Uruguay, Ghana, New Zealand, Finland
- Group B: CONCACAF 1, South Africa, Brazil, Japan
- Group C: CONCACAF 3, Cameroon, Korea DPR, Germany
- Group D: Korea Republic, Spain, CONCACAF 2, Colombia
*CONCACAF qualifiers will finish on 12 June
Fixtures to get the heart racing
On 13 November in Montevideo, host nation Uruguay will take on Ghana in the opening game. Also that day, New Zealand will lock horns with tournament debutants Finland in the same section.
Defending champions Korea DPR, meanwhile, will open up against Germany in Colonia.
Elsewhere, 2014 runners-up Spain will start off versus Korea Republic in Montevideo on 14 November.
Who was there
The event was attended by Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer, and Rafael Fernandez, president of the Local Organising Committee.
Conducting proceedings were Bareman with Jaime Yarza, FIFA’s Head of Tournaments. Both were assisted by official tournament ambassador Deyna Castellanos (Venezuela) and FIFA Legend Niko Kranjcar (Croatia).
Among the national team coaches of the participating teams were Marko Solaranta (Finland), Anouschka Bernhard (Germany) and María Antonia Is Piñeira (Spain).
What they said
“Stars like Carli Lloyd, Lieke Martens and Deyna Castellanos all emerged from the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Today we’re tracing a path for the next generation of footballers that will shine on the international stage. And it is a generation that will, I’m sure, continue to write the story of the growth and development of women’s football,” Bareman said.
“Women’s football has grown a lot in Uruguay,” Fernandez said. “The culture is changing and the inclusion of women has come on leaps and bounds, but there is still some way to go. We are confident that this tournament will mark a turning point, giving new impetus to the status of women within football.”
“To the players that will compete in Uruguay I would tell them the tournament can change their lives like it changed mine, and they should not be afraid to show all their talent,” Castellanos said.
“From the personal point of view, the value of this tournament is the friends you make in inside the team,” Kranjcar said. “Then, these girls will compete against the best players in their age group in the world. There is no better preparation for the professional career than that.”