June 13th, 2024

Canada drawn with France, Brazil and Fiji at FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on June 5, 2024.

Canada's Olivia Smith takes the ball past Mexico goalkeeper Esthefanny Barreras during second half International friendly action in Toronto, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Canada has been drawn in Group B with France, Brazil and debutante Fiji for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The draw for the newly expanded 24-team tournament, which runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 22 in Colombia, was held Wednesday in Bogota.

France has made the tournament semifinals four times, missing out on the final four in 2022 in a penalty shootout loss to Japan. The French were runners-up in 2016 and third in 2014, when Canada hosted the tournament.

France booked its ticket to Colombia as the fourth-place finisher in last year’s UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship.

Brazil, current CONMEBOL under-20 champions, is one of only four teams to have qualified for all 11 editions of the FIFA tournament. The Brazilians were third in 2022, the first time they have cracked the top four since 2006. Brazil has finished third twice and fourth twice.

Canada has qualified for nine of the FIFA U-20 tournaments, missing out in 2010 and 2018. Host Canada finished runner-up to the U.S. in 2002, the first edition of the tournament when it was still an under-19 event.

The Canadian women reached the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2014, failing to make it out of the group stage on five other occasions.

Fiji, Austria, Cameroon and Morocco are first-time entries with the field increased from 16 to 24 teams. Fiji qualified as runner-up in last year’s OFC U-19 Women’s Championship, blanked 7-0 by New Zealand in the final.

Germany and the U.S. have each won the FIFA U-20 title three times with North Korea winning twice. Spain is the defending champion with Japan winning in 2018.

Spain is the only country to win FIFA Women’s World Cups at the senior, U-20 and U-17 levels and is the reigning champion at all three levels. Spain won the most recent UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship, defeating Germany on penalty kicks.

Canada will play France on Aug. 31 and Fiji on Sept. 3, with both games in Medellin, before shifting to Bogota to face Brazil on Sept. 6.

The top two teams in each of the six groups advance to the round of 16, along with the four best third-placed teams.

The Group B winner will face a third-place team while the runner-up will meet the second-place team in Group F (North Korea, Argentina, Costa Rica or the Netherlands).

Canada qualified for the tournament in early June, with Annabelle Chukwu scoring twice in extra time en route to a 5-3 comeback win over Costa Rica in the third-place match at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic.

The Canadians, coached by Cindy Tye, lost 2-1 to Mexico in the semifinal, beaten by a 92nd-minute goal.

Olivia Smith and Chukwu led Canada with four goals apiece at the CONCACAF tournament. With 24 career youth international goals, Smith moved past Jordyn Huitema for second-most all-time in Canada Soccer’s women’s youth program behind only Christine Sinclair (27 goals).

The 19-year-old Smith, who has 10 senior caps, is now vying to make Canada’s Olympic team.

Colombia previously hosted the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in 2011 and the FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2016.

FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Draw

Group A: Colombia, Australia, Cameroon, Mexico.

Group B: France, Canada, Brazil, Fiji.

Group C: Spain, U.S., Paraguay, Morocco.

Group D: Germany, Venezuela, Nigeria, South Korea.

Group E: Japan, New Zealand, Ghana, Austria.

Group F: North Korea, Argentina, Costa Rica, the Netherlands.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2024

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