Curtains fall on 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup as Spain lifts trophy, Nigeria finish 5th place

By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No.1 Women’s Football Journalist

Champions Spain

The 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup ended in the early hours of  Monday, August 29, with Spain thrashing defending champions Japan 3-1 in the epic final played at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, San José to emerge the new champions. 

This is even as the “Samba Girlz” Brazil whipped Netherlands 4-1 to claim the Bronze medal at the expense of Nigeria’s  conquerors in the quarter final stage,  although Nigeria finished in the fifth place out of 16 on the table.
The Oranje Ladies dispatched the Falconets 2-0 on August 21 to send the Africans on a difficult journey back home but were also stopped in the semi-final by Spain after succumbing to a 2-1 defeat to the eventual champions on August 25.
The 2022 edition was played in the presence of 29, 891 spectators who thronged the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica on a showery Costa Rica night as the  Spanish ladies who were unbeaten throughout the tournament showed their class against the Asian queens by outscoring them to lift their first-ever World Cup title at this level.
Also, the tie contested by Spain and Japan was the first time ever, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final was a repeat of the previous edition’s final, as Japan had beaten Spain to win their first title in 2018 in France by same 3-1 scoreline.

Costa Rica 2022 Top Scorers Inma Gabarro (M) Japanese Maika Hamano (R) and Yuzuki Yamamoto (L)

With the victory,  Spain has now become only the second European national team to win the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup within all the 10 editions of the tournament as an unbridled emotion was unleashed at the sound of the final whistle by the Spaniards.

A closer look at the astronomical growth of  women’s football in the Iberia nation showed that Spain had followed up winning the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2018 by conquering the U-20 crown in San Jose, Costa Rica on Monday morning.   
The only title missing from the Spanish Football Association’s global collection is the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy, and you can be sure some of the stars of their Costa Rica 2022 campaign will be aiding their quest at Australia & New Zealand 2023.
Statistically, Spain did not drop any match in six games, winning five matches, drawing once, scoring 14 goals and conceeding just two goals in the process as Head coach Pedro López led Spain were just unplayable in Costa Rica. 
The team started off slowing by drawing 0-0 with Brazil, walloped Costa Rica 5-0 and Australia 3-0 in the group stage with Mexico falling 1-0 in the quarter final and the Netherlands beaten 2-1 in the semi final before thrashing Japan 3-1 in the final.

Costa Rica 2022 Golden Ball- Maika Hamano (M), Silver Ball-Inma Gabarro (L) and Tarciane Lima (R)Brazil

The defeat ended Japan’s undefeated run in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup at nine games as the last time the Young Nadeshiko’s lost in the competition had been 1-0 to Spain in the group stage at France 2018.

However, Spain’s midfielder, Inmaculada (Inma) Gabarro, the 19-old Sevilla FC player’s eighth goals In the tournament made her the first player in 12 years to score more than seven times in one edition of the competition. The only players to have netted more in one FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup are Kelly Wilson (9 in 2002), Christine Sinclair (10 in 2002) and Alex Popp (10 in 2010).
Also, Spain’s Ariad Paralluelo became only the second player to register multiple goals in a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final. Korea DPR’s Kim Songhui hit a 13-minute hat-trick in a 5-0 thumping of China PR in 2006.
Meanwhile, the final rankings of the Costa Rica 2022 tournament placed Nigeria in fifth place as the best of the quarter-finalists.
The Falconets won three games and lost just once, scoring five goals and conceding three for a plus-two goal difference.
Exciting Nigerian youngster Esther Onyenezide finished joint-third on the goalscorer chart with three goals.

Hotshot…Esther Chinemerem Onyenezide shone brightest for Nigeria’s Falconets by scoring three goals in four matches to finish amongst new kids on the block in Costa Rica

The teenage attacking midfielder fell behind tournament top goalscorer Spain’s Inma Gabarro (7 goals) and Japan’s Maika Hamano (4 goals).Nigeria have never won the U-20 Women’s World Cup. The Falconets have finished as runners-up twice, though, in 2010 and 2014.

2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final Costa Rica Final Table:
🥇 Spain
🥈 Japan
🥉 Brazil
Tournament Award Winners:
Top Scorers: 
🇪🇸 Inma Gabarro – 8 Goals
🇯🇵 Maika Hamano – 4 Goals
🇯🇵 Yuzuki Yamamoto – 3 Goals
🇯🇵 Golden Ball – Maika Hamano 
🇪🇸 Silver Ball – Inma Gabarro 
🇧🇷 Bronze Ball – Tarciane Lima 
Golden Glove:
🇪🇸 Txell Font – (4 clean sheets)
*FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final Past Winners 
• Canada 2002: USA (Winners) – Canada (Runner-up)
• Thailand 2004: Germany (Winners) – China (Runner-up)
• Russia 2006: North Korea (Winners) – China (Runner-up)
• Chile 2008: USA (Winners) – North Korea (Runner-up)
• Germany 2010: Germany (Winners) – Nigeria (Runner-up)
• Japan 2012: USA (Winners) – Germany (Runner-up)
• Canada 2014: Germany (Winners) – Nigeria (Runner-up)
• Papua New Guinea 2016: North Korea (Winners) – France (Runner-up)
• France 2018: Japan (Winners) – Spain (Runner-up)
*USA and Germany are the most successful teams in the tournament having won the title for a record three times each.

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