Nigeria and Japan Looking to Pull Rank
While Japan must get to grips with Asian neighbours Korea Republic, Nigeria will be tackling a Mexico team setting itself new objectives for the tournament.
Game of the day
Japan-Korea Republic, Tokyo, 30 August 2012, 19:30 (local time)
As hosts and two-time reigning Asian U-19 champions, Japan will be backed by many to build on their impressive group-stage showing to progress. They may have needed to dig deep to draw 2-2 with New Zealand after falling two goals behind, but the Young Nadeshiko positively shone in their two other outings, sweeping aside Mexico 4-1 and Switzerland 4-0.
Their next challenge will be to oust a Korea Republic side fortunate to be in the competition at all, Japan's selection as host nation freeing up an extra berth from the Asian Zone. The Taeguk Ladies began their bid inauspiciously as a glaring lack of efficiency up front sparked an opening loss to Nigeria, but they quickly found their feet and dispatched both Italy and Brazil 2-0. Those wins came despite the absence of star forward Yeo Minji, injured against Nigeria, and it was Korea Republic's superb collective strength that carried them through.
The other game
Nigeria-Mexico, Tokyo, 30 August 2012, 16:00 (local time)
Nigeria made a searing impression during the group stage as they took firm control of all three matches, even if they were pegged back late on in their 1-1 draw with Brazil. Attacking trio Desire Oparanozie, Esther Sunday and Francisca Ordega work excellently together, while further back the Falconets boast a solid defence and a goalkeeper in Ibubele Whyte who has coped admirably with the little work she has been presented with.
That formula might have intimidated Mexico a few days ago, but the El Tri look a different proposition now, having succeeded in combining defensive strength with a clinical edge going forward. Those qualities helped the North American contenders down Switzerland 2-0 and New Zealand 4-0 after their campaign began with a punishing defeat by Japan.
Player to watch
In the absence of key performer Yeo Minji, still missing through injury, Korea Republic have found a new hero in the shape of Jeoun Eunha. "I prefer to pass rather than score because I lack a little confidence in front of goal," she told FIFA.com before the crucial meeting with Brazil. Despite those reservations, she promptly weighed in with both goals to propel the Taeguk Ladies into the last eight. Now sure to be high on new-found belief, who knows what she could achieve?
0 – The number of players suspended for the first two quarter-finals. All four teams still in contention boast a full squad to pick from as the knockout stage gets underway, although no fewer than 16 players face the prospect of sitting out the semi-finals should they collect another yellow card.
What they said
"It will be an interesting match because they have qualities we don't and vice versa. The key will be confidence and intelligence. They're a strong and athletic team, so we'll need to be cleverer to keep up with them. We have to realise that, for Mexico, it's now or never," Sofia Huerta, Mexico forward.
By FIFA.com, 29/08/2012