Image Credit: www.bbc.com
The 9th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will run from Thursday 20th July, with New Zealand taking on Norway in the opening match at Eden Park, Auckland, culminating in the final in Stadium Australia in Sydney on Sunday 20th August. It will be the first Women’s World Cup that is co-hosted by 2 countries (New Zealand and Australia) and the first Women’s world cup featuring 32 teams. There will also be 8 teams making their Women’s World Cup debuts.
The USA will be going for their 3rd straight world cup crown. They have won 4 altogether and are the most successful team in women’s world cup history. Germany have won 2 world cups (2003 and 2007), With Norway (1995) and Japan (2011) 1 each. Will these teams add another to their list of crowns? Will Sweden, Brazil, China or Netherlands who have been finalists before go one better? Will we have a brand new finalist and winner in 2023?
Some amazing players have graced the Women’s World Cup such as Marta (Brazil), Megan Rapinoe (USA), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Michelle Akers (USA), Sun Wen (China), Lisa De Vanna (Australia). Who could forget Brandi Chastain’s famous goal celebration when the USA win the 1999 World Cup? There will be players hoping to get their names on the list of world cup legends like Australia’s Sam Kerr. Which players will stand out from the rest in 2023? We will find out in August 2023.
The World Cup groups are as follows:
Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
Group B: Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Canada
Group C: Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan
Group D: England, Haiti, Denmark, China
Group E: USA, Vietnam, Netherlands, Portugal
Group F: France, Jamaica, Brazil, Panama
Group G: Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina
Group H: Germany, Morocco, Colombia, Korea Republic
The host cities will be Auckland (NZ), Sydney (AUS), Dunedin (NZ), Melbourne (AUS), Wellington (NZ), Hamilton (NZ), Brisbane (AUS), Perth (AUS) and Adelaide (AUS). Sydney will be using both Stadium Australia and the Sydney Football Stadium, making it 10 stadiums altogether.
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Co-Host nation New Zealand will be playing in their 5th ever World Cup. There is a good spread of players who play domestically and abroad. Erin Nayler is expected to be their goalkeeper and Angel City’s Ali Riley is expected to be their captain. Other star players to look out for are Anna Green, Betsy Hassett, Jacqui Hand and Olivia Chance. Being the home team, much is expected of them. We believe home ground advantage will be significant in seeing New Zealand qualify for the second round.
Previous champion Norway have participated in every edition of the Women’s World Cup. In fact, they have the 3rd best record in terms of matches won. They aren’t the force that they were back in the glorious 90s but there enough class in the team to give the world cup a shake. Guro Pettersen and Cecille Fiskerstrand are expected to fight it out for the goalkeeper’s position. Guro Reiten is expected to be the captain. Other stars in the team are Emile Haavi, Frida Maanum, Ingrid Syrstad Engen and Maria Thorisdottir. Like New Zealand, we expect them to make the 2nd round but question marks remain about how far they can go after that.
The Philippine team is making its World Cup debut. It is a mixture of home-grown players as well as those of Philippine descent who have chosen to represent their nation of origin. Their captain is Tahnai Annis. Other players to look out for are goalkeeper Inna Palacios, Hali Long, Anicka Castaneda and Quinley Quezada. The bookies don’t rate them a chance but do not under estimate the support they will get from the Philippine community and the impact that will have on the team.
Switzerland will be playing in their second ever Women’s World Cup. As with the Philippine team, the bookies don’t rate them but they have a well balanced squad that can cause an upset on their day. They are led by Arsenal’s Lia Waiti. Other star players are goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann, Noelle Maritz, Sandy Maendly Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic and Ramona Bachmann. They will be competitive and will give the more fancied teams a fright, but we don’t see them going to the second round.
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Australia have played in every world cup aside from the inaugural one. They have made the round of 16 in the last 4 editions of the World Cup and made it to the quarter finals on 3 of those occasions. Being the co-host, a lot is expected of this team which will have fanatical home support. Just recently, FIFA allowed their opening match to be played at Stadium Australia, rather than the smaller Sydney Football Stadium, such is the interest in this team. The undisputed star of the team is captain and all time leading scorer, Sam Kerr. Australia’s goalkeeping position will be fought over by veteran Kydia Williams, Mackenzie Arnold and the up and coming Teagan Micah who starred at the Olympics. Other star players to look out for are Clare Polkinghorne, Steph Cately, Alanna Kennedy, Emily Van Egmond, Tameka Yallop and Caitlin Foord. Australia’s players play for some of the biggest clubs in the world and have the class required to compete at the world cup. A semi final is certainly not out of the question and would be their minimum level reached. With the fanatical home support, this could be the year of the Matildas.
The Republic of Ireland are one of eight teams making their World Cup debuts. They have not been given any favours after being placed in a very tough group. But this team has pride and they will not be under estimated by their opponents. Captain Katie McCabe is one of many players at this tournament who plays for Arsenal and she will be backed up by other experienced stars such as Aine O’Gorman, Louise Quinn, Megan Campbell, Denise O’Sullivan and Amber Barrett. Due to being in a tough group, we expect the Irish to be competitive but don’t expect them to go to the second round.
Nigeria have qualified for each edition of the Women’s World Cup, but aside from the quarter Final appearance in 1999 and their round of 16 appearance in 2019, they have never really set the World Cup on fire. Strong in Africa but still to make their mark on the world. They will want to use this opportunity to give a good account of themselves. Unfortunately, they have 2 very strong opponents in their group and difficult to see them going far. Players to look out for are Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade, Halimatu Ayinde, Osinachi Ohale and Chiamaka Nnadozie.
Like Australia, Canada has played in each world cup aside from the first one in 1991. They have a 4th place in 2003 to their name, as well as a quarter final and a round of 16. They are the reigning Olympic champions, so they have a great pedigree. Almost each player plays their club football outside of Canada, some for some big clubs. Star players include Julia Grosso, Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie, Ashley Lawrence, Allysha Chapman as well as goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. As per Australia, a semi final is not out of the question and they would be disappointed not to get that far at the very least.
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Spain who have only previously participated in 2 World Cups are the 3rd favourite to win this edition of the World Cup. They made it to the round of 16 last time around and are looking to go all the way this time. Star players include Mariona Caldently, Alexia Putellas, Irene Peredes, Leila Ouahabi, Sandra Panos and Jennifer Hermoso. They won 2 out of the 3 matches in the Cup of Nations tournament with a depleted squad. They will be super strong with their first-choice squad.
Costa Rica are making their second ever appearance at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, after debuting in 2015. They have been placed into a difficult group but their spirits are high and they are confident of shaking things up. Players to look out for are Gabriela Guillen, Mariana Benavides, Shirley Cruz (who is expected to be the captain), Katherine Alvarado and Melissa Herrera. We believe they will dish out spirited performances but will struggle to make the second round.
Zambia are another team making their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut. Nobody expects much from them but that is when a team is at its most dangerous. They came 3rd at the African Cup of Nations, paving the way for entry into this tournament. Players to look out for are Hazel Nali, Margaret Belemu, Agness Musase and Grace Chanda. As per Costa Rica, we expect some spirited performances but will struggle to make it out of this group.
2011 Japan go into this tournament without the attention of previous world cups where they won or finished runner-up. However, they are a strong enough team to give the tournament a shake. Gone are the days of stars such as Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama and in their place are a dynamic squad with players like Ayaka Yamashita, Saki Kumagai (who is expected to be the captain), Risa Shimizu, Yui Hasegawa and Mana Iwabuchi. Almost half their squad plays abroad and so have a lot of international experience. We expect a quarter final spot for them at the very least.
|Team||To Win the World Cup|
England are the 2nd favourite to win this FIFA Women’s World Cup. They are the current European Champions after defeating Germany in the final in 2022. They won all 3 games in the Arnold Clark Cup played in February which featured South Korea, Italy and Belgium. Players to look out for are captain Leah Williamson (another team captain playing for Arsenal), Lucy Bronze, Mary Earps, Keira Walsh and Lauren Hemp among many others. There is a growing feeling that this could be the year of the Lionesses. They have the squad to do it.
Haiti is making its debut after their dramatic and emotional qualification where they defeated Senegal and then Chile. Now that they are in the tournament, they don’t want to make up the numbers. They want to make an impression and show their qualification was no fluke. Their star goal scorer is Roselord Borgella along with Batcheba Louis and also captain Nerilia Mondesir. Their biggest problem will be inexperience as nobody has more than 30 caps in the squad.
After making the quarter finals twice in the 90s, Denmark’s only qualification in the current millennium was in 2007. They will be wanting to make up for lost time, especially as their neighbouring nations have streaked ahead in their development. In February, they won 2 of their 3 matches in the Tournoi De France with wins against Norway and Uruguay. Players to look out for are captain Stine Ballisager Pedersen, Simone Boye Sorensen, Sanne Troelsgaard, Sofie Junge and Stine Larsen. They have a great chance for qualification to the round of 16 but not expected to progress further after that.
China was a powerhouse in the women’s game in the 90s. 4th place in 1995 and runner-up in 1999. Aside from 2 quarter final appearances in this millennium, there have not set the world on fire in recent years. Their recent form in friendlies has not been all that great, having been thrashed by Sweden and drawing against Ireland. Gone are the days of Pu Wen, Sun Wen and Han Duan. The current squad can draw players like Lou Jiahui, Li Jiayue, Zhang Rui,Li Ying and Wang Shuang. Like Denmark, China is in with a chance of making the second round and their match against Denmark will likely determine who goes through.
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The USA team is going for their 3rd straight title and 5th overall. They are also the bookies’ favourites right now. Becky Sauerbrunn is the captain these days having taken over from Megan Rapinoe, and she will be supported by players such as Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan. They will be tough to beat and are currently unbeaten in 2023 with 5 wins from 5 matches. They are the current Concacaf champions and Bronze medalists from the previous Olympics. As long as they keep their cool, we believe they have a fantastic chance of winning it again.
Another team making its Women’s World Cup debut is Vietnam. Ranked 34th in the world at the end of 2022, they will want to use this opportunity to improve of their best ever ranking of 29. Their captain is Huynh Nhu and is the only player who plays abroad for Vilaverdense in Portugal. She will be supported by Pham Hai Yen, Duong Thi Van, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung and Chuong Thi Kieu. They have their work cut out for them in a difficult group.
The Netherlands team will be playing in their 3rd World Cup but they have a rich history. They debuted in 2015 and made the round of 16 and in the previous edition, made the final and lost to their 2023 group opponents, USA. They were quarter finalists at the previous Olympics too, so they are a team with a real pedigree. Their captain is expected to be Sherida Spitse and will be backed up by players such as Lieke Martens, Lineth Beerensteyn, Jackie Groenen and Stefanie van der Gragt. After losing the previous final, they will be desperate to go one better, and will want to win their group match against USA to set the scene for the rest of the tournament.
Another Group E team making its World Cup debut is Portugal. Qualifying for this world cup after years of trying brought about great joy, but now that they are there, want to make a good account of themselves. Vast majority of players play in Portugal. Players to look out for are Patricia Morais, Carole Costa, Ana Borges, Silvia Rebelo, Dolores Silva, Tatiana Pinto and Jessica Silva. They may lack big tournament experience, but as we have seen with their group opponents Netherlands, if you are good enough, you will succeed.
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Euro 2022 semi finalists France go into this tournament with a huge reputation and will be hoping to do one better than their men’s team at the last men’s world cup. 2 wins and a draw in the Tournoi de France against some fancied teams, means they will go into this world cup in good form. The worst they have done is the quarter finals in the last 3 world cups so eyes will be on the French. They are captained by Wendie Renard and her teammates include Eve Perisset, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Grace Geyoro, Kenza Dali and Kadidiaou Diani. Another semi final is not out of the question.
Jamaica, otherwise known as the Reggae Girlz are heading to their 2nd straight Women’s World Cup. They go into this world cup having twice been the 3rd placed team from the Concacaf region. Their captain is expected to be Manchester City’s Khadija Shaw who will play alongside Chantelle Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood, Jody Brown and Kayla McKenna. They lost all 3 matches in the Cup Of Nations against Spain, Czechia and Australia, so their form is not looking so good going into the world cup. We expect a challenge from them but they may not have the class to compete with the heavy weights of the group.
Brazil’s women, just like the men’s team have qualified for every Women’s World Cup. Their best result was when they reached the final in 2007. The last two editions of the World Cup have seen them bow out in the round of 16. As a proud footballing nation, they will be desperate to improve on that record. Their most famous player is Marta. She is their all-time leading scorer and 2nd most capped player in Brazilian history. Difficult to predict how significant her contribution will be being 36 years of age but something tells us she will be their star even at this world cup. Other players in the Brazilian squad to look out for are Tamires, Rafaelle, Adriana, Debinha and Ludmila. They aren’t the top favourites as per previous world cups but they will be super competitive. We believe they can at least make the quarter finals.
After qualifying via the intercontinental playoffs, Panama who defeated PNG and Paraguay round off Group F. Along with 8 other teams at this world cup, they will be making their debut. Their best result at an international competition was their 4th place in the 2018 Concacaf Cup. Their captain is Natalia Mills. Her teammates include Karla Riley, Marta Cox, Yomira Pinzon and Lineth Cedeno. With no players with 25 caps or more, we believe they will struggle to make an impression.
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Sweden go into this World Cup as another team that has participated in every edition. They have three 3rd places and a runners-up, along with 2 quarter finals. Put simply, they are always a strong team. They were also runners-up at the last 2 Olympic games and semi finalists at the last UEFA Women’s Championships. Caroline Seger is the regular captain but AC Milan player Kosovare Asllani often wears the arm band in Seger’s absence. Other star players to look out for are Sofia Jakobsson, Fridolina Rolfo, Olivia Schough, Linda Sembrant and Magdalena Eriksson. They have a good enough team to go all the way but at the very least, a semi-final appearance.
South Africa are making their 2nd appearance at a Women’s FIFA World Cup. They lost all 3 group games last world cup and will want to improve on that record this time round. They are however the current African Champions. They don’t have a regular captain but their star players are Jermaine Seoposenwe, Linda Motihalo, Gabriela Salgado and Noko Matiou. They do lack players who play for big clubs with international experience and we believe they will struggle to make it out of the group phase.
After not qualifying for 4 straight World Cups, Italy made the quarter finals of the previous world cup and will be looking to improve on that performance. They did not make the knock out stages of the last two EUFA Women’s Championships, and they lost 2 out of the 3 matches at the Arnold Clark Cup in February 2023. Their form going into this World Cup is suspect to say the least. With the exception of Everton’s Aurora Galli, the whole squad plays its club football in Italy. Their main players are Laura Giuliani, Elisa Bartoli, Martina Rosucci, Valentina Giacinti and Cristiana Girelli. They are every chance to play in the knock out stage but we can’t see them going further than that.
Argentina will participate in their 4th ever World Cup, never having played knock out football previously. In fact, out of their 9 matches, they have 2 draws and no wins to their name. Needless to say, they want to make an impression, considering how their men’s team is the toast of their nation with their triumph in 2022. They did have a win against Chile and 2 wins against New Zealand in the February friendlies that took place in New Zealand. With the large expat community in both New Zealand and Australia, don’t be surprised if they can cause an upset and make the second round for the first time in their history.
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The Germans are one of 7 teams who have participated in each edition of the Women’s World Cups. They have won it twice (2003 and 2007) and runner-up once. The greatest player in their history is without doubt Birgit Prinz. The current German team is pretty strong too with bookies having them as the 4th favourite to win the Cup. They are captained by Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp who is the most experienced player in the current squad. Other stars of the team are Svenja Huth, Sara Dabritz, Lina Magull and sara Doorsoun. They will be eager to go all the way. A semi final spot should be the lowest they finish.
Morocco will also be making their Women’s World Cup debut in 2023 and after the exploits of their men’s team in 2022, will want to do their nation proud too. They were the runner-up in the 2022 Women’s African Cup, so they will want to show the world they belong on the world stage. Their captain is Elodie Nakkach. Other star players are Ghiziane Chebbak, Ibtissam Jraidi and Sabah Seghir. Whilst nobody believes they can go all the way, they are good enough to make the second round and that would be a massive achievement for this debutant.
Colombia have qualified for their 3rd world cup and till now have never made it out of the group stage. They will be eager to go further than they have ever been before and have been drawn into a group which qualifying would not be out of the question. Will the team, led by Daniela Montoya, get to the next phase is another question. She will be supported by players such as Catalina Perez, Daniela Arias, Manuela Vanegas, Mayra Ramirez and Leicy Santos. An entertaining team to watch.
South Korea (or Korea Republic as they prefer to be called) have qualified for their 4th ever World Cup. They have made one Round of 16 in their previous 3 attempts and have a legitimate chance of adding to that this time round. They will need to start winning games for that to happen as they have only ever won once and drawn once at a FIFA Women’s World Cup. They will be led by Kim Hye-Ri, who will count on players such as Kim Jung-Mi, Lim Seon-Joo, Ji So-Yun, Park Eun-Sun and Choe Yu-Ri. This group will be the most competitive group at the Cup.