Women's U17 World Cup kicks off in style
NICOLA ABERCROMBIE IN BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
Two easy victories, two draws and an international superstar have signalled the start of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The Young Football Ferns will get their campaign underway against Mexico at 10pm (NZT) tonight but were last night treated to performances by the world renowned Cirque du Soleil and Jennifer Lopez as part of the tournament's Opening Ceremony at Tofig Bahramov Stadium.
Performers from the international circus were thrown in the air from chairs and thin planks of wood around a fiery centrepiece, a nod to Azerbaijan as the land of fire.
Lopez, in her trademark silver sparkling costume, was then carried across the pitch to deafening roars before performing two songs.
The Democratic Republic of Korea kicked off the tournament with a clinical win over Gambia in front of more than 8500 people at 8km Stadium. A first half hat-trick to forward Ri Un Sim gave the Koreans a six-goal buffer at halftime.
Gambia had no answer in the second half either, with Korea DPR reeling off a further five goals, including another treble for Ri Kyong Hang, to run out easy winners.
Canada and Nigeria could not be separated, their match ending in a 1-1 draw, while tournament heavyweights France and the United States played out a nil-all draw.
Colombia were too strong for the hosts in the final match of the day, securing an easy 4-0 win.
The Kiwis have had a week to get used to the Baku heat, with daily temperatures reaching around 30 degrees Celsius, and will be looking to start well in what is a challenging group.
Japan, traditionally a powerhouse in women's football, and Brazil are in the Young Football Ferns' group along with first-up opponents Mexico.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will progress to the quarter-finals.
- Fairfax Media
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