All sixteen teams have now been determined for the 2014 Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada this August. While only one team is new to the tournament, another four were not in the last tournament, in 2012.
Close to home, Canada is automatically in as the host. This is the second time they’ve hosted this tournament; they hosted the inaugural edition in 2002, when it was an Under-19 competition.
The United States have never failed to qualify at the U-20 level. Mexico has only failed to qualify once, in 2004; only two teams from CONCACAF qualified that year, and USA and Canada were the winners then. This is the second time for Costa Rica; the Ticas beat Canada in 2010 in the 3rd place match to claim the last qualifying spot. (They also placed 3rd in 2004, but again only two teams qualified.)
So it remains that the four CONCACAF teams to qualify for Canada 2014 – the hosts, of course, along with USA, Mexico, and Costa Rica – are the only four teams from CONCACAF to ever qualify the U-20 World Cup.
Some surprises in Europe: of the four qualifiers from 2012, only Germany is back this year. They have never failed to qualify at any Women’s World Cup, youth or senior. Two of the other nations, England and France, were in both 2008 and 2010 – and France placed 4th in ’08 – while the fourth team, Finland, has never qualified at the senior or U-17 level, but is now back for the second time at this level.
In South America, Paraguay and Brazil have qualified. While Brazil has never failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup, this is the first time for Paraguay, who has never played in the senior WWC either. That may be changing, however: their U17s have qualified twice, once in 2008 and again this year. With both youth teams making the tournaments this year, we may see their senior team finally make it in soon.
In Asia, it’s the usual suspects – China PR, North Korea and South Korea – except for one surprise: Japan failed to qualify, for the first time in four cycles. And they missed out in the harshest way: in the AFC Qualifying round-robin, they were tied with China on points, and lost only on goal differential – by a single goal. As for the rest, all three qualifiers are back from 2012. Asia remains the youth Women’s World Cup powerhouse: an AFC team has placed 2nd three times, and 3rd twice, and in 2006, Korea DPR beat China in the final. At the U-17 level, in the three previous U-17 WWCs, Korea DPR won the first in 2008, placed 4th in 2010 and 2nd in 2012; while Korea Republic won in 2010, with Japan placing second.
In Africa, it’s also the usual: Nigeria, who have never failed to qualify (and placed second in the 2010 U-20 WWC, and 4th in 2012), along with Ghana, who have qualified for their third straight WWC. They have not gotten out of their group in their previous two appearances.
And in Oceania, again very little surprise: New Zealand, the only real contender in the region, will be going. They have qualified every cycle, at every level, since Australia left the confederation for AFC, in 2006. They have never, however, gotten out of their group.
The group draw for the U-20 Women’s World Cup will be held in Montreal this Saturday, March 1. Group play will begin August 5.