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U-17 Women’s World Cup: Mexico upstage Spain in replay of 2018 final


Early mornings can be chilly in capital Bogota this time of the year, but Colombia were determined to be well-prepared when they landed in India for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

To ensure the 10-and-a-half hour time difference between Colombia and India didn’t hamper his players’ performance due to jet lag, Colombia coach Carlos Paniagua made his players wake up one hour earlier daily to get ready for training. So, from the start of the month, they started waking up at 8am, 7am, and so on. Soon they were waking up at 3am, having breakfast and hitting the training field.

“Mornings are very cold in Bogota. It was not easy for the girls to have breakfast at 3.30 am and then be on the ground at 4am to start training at 4.30am. They know how important it is and they did it without any complaint,” he had said on eve of the tournament.

That’s what Colombia were willing to do to make it to the knockouts for the first time. In four previous appearances, the South Americans haven’t gone past the group stages.

Colombia’s comfortable 2-0 win over China in Group C on Saturday was only their second win in the competition. The star of the show was skipper Linda Caicedo, who netted both the goals.

Paniagua said: “When we landed in India, the players struggled a bit but now they have adjusted to the time difference, the climate. We played well against Spain in the first game and today against China as well,” he said after their victory at the DY Patil Stadium.

The team landed in India at 7am on October 8 and the coach made sure the players hit the bed only in the night. So, they had breakfast, lunch and then training. “We had one of the laziest and most difficult training sessions that day,” said Colombian defender Mary Jose Alvarez. Since then the Colombia players are feeling great, and with each outing their confidence of making it to the knockouts is growing.

Mexico produced a much better display to beat defending champions Spain 2-1 in the other Group C clash between the 2018 finalists. Mexico, Spain, Colombia and China are all on three points and the two qualifiers will be decided after the final group games on Tuesday. In the last round, Mexico play Colombia and Spain face China.

Spain dominated in the first-half but like their 1-0 victory in the first match against Colombia, they couldn’t convert their chances. Their best opportunity came in the 38th minute when Vicky Lopez shot over the bar.

The second half was more even and all the goals came through defensive lapses. Mexico went ahead in the 47th minute when Spanish goalkeeper Sofia Fuente parried a cross from Montserrat Saldivar on to the path of Maribel Flores, who slotted home. Spain equalised in the 74th minute after Mexico goalkeeper Renatta Cota spilled a Carla Camacho cross which deflected off the post to Judit Pujols, who tapped in.

Spain looked in control thereafter and pushed for the winner, but in their effort to play from the back, lost possession. Mexico, who also struck the post once in each half, latched on to the opportunity and moved it forward quickly with Saldivar scoring the winner in the 85th minute.



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