Lincoln - When the Nebraska soccer team opens the 2012 season on Friday night in Norman, Okla., the Huskers will be missing one player, as junior Ari Romero will be competing for the Mexican Under-20 National team at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan.
Romero and her teammates are slotted in Group A with host country Japan, as well as New Zealand and Switzerland. There are 16 teams total at the tournament in four, four-team groups. Mexico opens play on Friday, Aug. 19, at 5:20 a.m. (CT) when it takes on Japan at Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi. Mexico then meets Switzerland on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 2:30 a.m. (CT), again in Miyagi, before completing group play on Sunday, Aug. 26, in Kobe at Kobe Univer Stadium with a 5:20 a.m. (CT) game against New Zealand.
If Mexico advances past the group stage, the quarter-final stage starts on Thursday, Aug. 30, with the semi-final stage on Tuesday, Sept. 4 and the finals are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9.
Mexico earned a trip to the tournament by placing third at CONCACAF qualifying this past March, as a 5-0 win over host nation Panama secured the bid. Mexico has taken part in four of the last five FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup tournaments, but have never advanced past the quarter-final stage.
Mexico failed to survive the group phase in 2002 (Canada), 2006 (Russia) and 2008 (Chile), before winning its group at the 2010 World Cup in Germany, but lost in the quarter-final stage to Korea Republic.