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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

U-20 World Cup field only missing one after African, South American tournaments

Posted: 01/30/2014 12:17 PM | Comments: 0

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TORONTO - And then there was one.

Brazil and Paraguay have qualified for FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2014, leaving just one spot remaining in the 16-country women's soccer tournament.

The South American squads booked their tickets this week at the CONMEBOL qualifying campaign in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, by taking an unassailable lead in the standings ahead of Friday's final.

While Brazil has played in the six previous world U-20 tournaments, this summer will mark Paraguay's debut.

The last team remaining will come from Oceania, likely New Zealand. The Kiwis have won every OFC U-20 Women's Championship since Australia left for the Asian Football Confederation.

The Oceania tournament, featuring New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu, is set for Feb. 18-22 in Auckland.

The U-20 World Cup tournament, seen as a test run for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada in 2015, is slated for Aug. 5-24 in Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal and Toronto.

Canada, as host, qualifies automatically.

Nigeria won the African qualifying tournament, outscoring its opposition 31-0 en route to six straight wins. Ghana also advanced but had to rally to defeat Equatorial Guinea 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the two-legged tie ended at 1-1.

The high-powered Americans booked their ticket after dominating the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship in the Cayman Islands. Mexico and Costa Rica also advanced

The U.S., which won the world under-20 title in 2002, 2008 and 2012, defeated Mexico 3-0 in the final as the Americans won all five of their matches, outscoring the opposition 29-0.

Europe will be represented in Canada by England, Finland, France and two-time world under-20 champion Germany. Qualifying took place last August at the UEFA European Women's U-19 Championship in Wales where France defeated England 2-0 in the final.

South Korea, North Korea and China will represent Asia by virtue of the AFC U-19 Women's Championship in October.

The FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup is scheduled to open Aug. 5 at BMO Field in Toronto. Twenty-nine matches later, the third-place game and final will take place Aug. 24 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

In 2012, Canada failed to make it to the quarter-finals after going 1-2-0 in round-robin play in Japan.

The host Canadian women lost to the U.S. on a golden goal in the final before 47,784 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium in the inaugural 2002 competition.

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