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U-17 Women’s World Cup set for new champion

Canada will have a tough time getting out of Group B at the U-17 Women's World Cup. (Photo: CONCACAF.com)

The U-17 Women’s World Cup gets underway in Costa Rica on Saturday as 16 teams vie for the crown that France claimed in 2012, and there is guaranteed to be a new champion.

Les Bleues failed to qualify for this edition of the tournament. Italy, Spain and mainstay Germany are UEFA’s entrants into the tournament.

Also missing from the competition for the second time in three cycles are the United States, who lost to Mexico in the semifinals of qualifying, failing to advance to the big stage. Just like 2010, when Trinidad & Tobago hosted the tournament, there was one less qualifying spot available since a CONCACAF country (Costa Rica) is hosting the tournament and therefore qualifies automatically. Mexico and Canada will join the hosts at the competition.

“We hope to live up to the standard of Costa Rican football and reap the rewards of all our recent work,” Costa Rica coach Juan Diego Quesada said.

Ghana, third-place finishers in 2012, are joined by Zambia and traditional power Nigeria from Africa. China, Japan and North Korea enter the World Cup from Asia, while New Zealand stands as Oceania’s lone representative.

Rounding out the field is a South American contingent with a noticeable absence of Brazil. Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela are in Costa Rica for the World Cup.

The tournaments full schedule can be found here. Games are aired in the U.S. on ESPN3.com. Group B promises drama, with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers from the 2012 tournament joining Canada. Germany gets a shot at Ghana after losing the 3rd place game in 2012 and they will be joined by North Korea, who lost to France in the last final. These are how the groups shake out:

GROUP A
Costa Rica
Venezuela
Italy
Zambia

GROUP B
Ghana
Korea DPR
Germany
Canada

GROUP C
New Zealand
Paraguay
Spain
Japan

GROUP D
Mexico
Colombia
China
Nigeria

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