On Tuesday evening Groups A and B will wrap up play at the Under-20 Women's World Cup. It should be a night full of drama with all eight teams still in the mix to advance and none having assured themselves of a place in the knockout round. It comes down to eight teams fighting for four places with Group B taking the field first in Montreal and Moncton at 4 Eastern followed by the Group A games at 7.
For Canada they enter the game sitting in second place in Group A on 3 points. Korea DPR continue to lead the way with 6 points with Ghana in third on 3 points and Finland in last without a single point. The current standings mean a lot of potential scenarios to determine which two teams advance.
North Korea advance with a win, a draw, and possibly even with a loss. Should North Korea lose while Canada and Ghana win all three teams would be tied on 6 points and then the positions would be determined by goal difference, then goals scored, and finally head-to-head results. That means North Korea have all but advanced as they have a +4 goal difference while Canada is at 0 and Ghana is at -2. As a fun example of what could happen, if Canada wins 2-0 and Ghana wins 4-0, all teams would be tied with 6 points, +2 GD and 5 goals scored. At which point the results against Finland would be thrown out leaving Ghana 3rd in head to head results between the 3.
Canada advances with a win assuming they have a better goal difference than one of North Korea and Ghana. Canada can advance with a draw should Ghana either draw or lose against Finland. Canada can even back in with a defeat should Finland beat Ghana by less than 2 goals. The only result that assures Canada maintains control of their own fate is a win as anything else would mean they need help from the result of Ghana-Finland.
Ghana are in a similar position to Canada except for the fact that even with a win they do not fully control their own fate. Ghana can advance even if Canada wins but to do that they would have to win by at least a two goal larger margin than Canada wins by. If Ghana wins and Canada gets anything less than the full three points they advance. If Ghana draw they can only advance with a Korea DPR win and if they lose they will be eliminated.
For Finland the scenarios are pretty straight forward. The only way they can advance is by beating Ghana while Canada lose to Korea DPR. As long as either margin of victory/defeat is more than 1, that would be enough for Finland to claim 2nd on goal difference. If Canada lose by 1 and Finland win by 1, then it's to goals scored, which would probably favour Finland as both sides currently have 3.
If all the scenarios make your head hurt the best thing you can do tonight is cheer for Canada to win their game against Korea DPR which should make things fairly simple and relieve the headaches. The problem is that beating Korea DPR is not going to be a simple task for the Canadians.
North Korea have two wins from their first two games and have looked fairly convincing in picking up those 6 points. They cruised to a 2-1 win over Finland in the opener on the strength of some strong defending and a couple of first half goals. They followed that up with a 3-0 win over Ghana which was a flattering scoreline as the game was close for the majority of the 90 minutes.
Korea DPR have been very strong defensively and have done enough to make their offensive chances count which has been a real recipe for success thus far in the group. What Canada should have going for them is a stronger defence than either Finland or Ghana. If they can limit Korea's ability to get the ball into the box and take away the simple headers it should be a good start to control their attack. Korea DPR certainly have a number of players who can hit the ball well which means Canada will have to be conscious of closing them down early and limiting the number of set pieces they give up in dangerous locations.
It is a simple plan for success but that is because for the most part North Korea have a simple attacking strategy. They will look to get the ball in to dangerous areas and will break quickly on the counter while pushing numbers forward when the chance is there. They do not really have a main threat in their attack as four different players have scored for them in their first two games. Ri-Un Sim who scored twice against Ghana was also their top scorer in qualification and is probably the biggest attacking threat that Canada will have to keep an eye on.
On the other end of the field Canada should have their chances to score goals. Both Ghana and Finland had chances to score goals despite failing to make the most of them. The main area that Canada will have the advantage is their size as Korea DPR's defence is not the tallest opposition they will face and their keeper is also small in stature. That means getting in good crosses, corners, and free kicks might just be a recipe for success for Canada. Any chance they have to get the likes of Buchanan forward in the attack and put their size to use, they should take it.
Another player who should be a real threat for Canada is Nichelle Prince. She looked sharp against Ghana and was causing defenders all kinds of problems against Finland. A similar performance against Korea DPR could again result in a lot of problems for defenders and could unlock space for other Canadian attackers in the final third.
If the second half version of Canada that we saw against Finland shows up for this game they should have enough quality to come away with the win that they need to advance to the quarterfinals. If the Canada that we saw for the first 135 minutes of this event is the one that shows up it could be a very long night of scoreboard watching.
Should Canada advance from the group they will meet one of the top two teams from Group B which is also coming down to the final day. Germany lead the way with 4 points and could wrap up the group with a win over Brazil while China and the United States will battle for the second spot with the USA holding the edge by heading in to the match on 3 points so a draw would be enough for them to advance while China are on 2 points and will need to win to move on. Things will get more complicated though if Brazil manage to beat Germany as it could lead to a lot of ties in the standings with several teams potentially finishing on 4 points.
Canada is certainly not in any position to worry about who they could be meeting in the quarterfinals considering they have not even booked their own ticket yet. Either way, no one in Group B has looked fully convincing through the first two matches so it is hard to predict who would be the best potential matchup for the Canadians in the next round.