[UNDER-17 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP]Venezuela is making a name for itself as a rising South America women's power under Panamanian coach Kenneth Zseremeta, who has led the Vinotinto into the semifinals of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
Venezuela, a 3-2 winner over Canada, will meet Japan in Monday's semifinals in Costa Rica. The second game of the doubleheader will be an all-European affair: Spain-Italy.
Venezuela 3 Canada 2
Italy 2 Ghana 2
(Italy won 4-3 on penalties)
Japan 2 Mexico 0
Spain 3 Nigeria 0
Venezuela, had never reached the final eight of a FIFA tournament at any level, came from 2-1 down after conceding its first goals of the tournament to beat Canada on goals by 14-year-old Deyna Castellanos, Yosneidy Zambrano and Gabriela Garcia, who assisted on Castellanos' opening goal.
Castellanos, whose goal was her tournament-leading fifth in four games, started playing when she was 4 years old after her brother's coach saw her kicking a ball around. She asked her parents if she could practice with her brother's team, and she was soon scoring goals. Castellanos now plays for a school operated by Venezuelan star Juan Arango, who plays for Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany.
Reflecting the diversity of Venezuelan women's soccer, Escuela Juan Arango is one of 19 different programs represented on the 21-player U-17 roster.