2015 FIFA Women World Cup
When this seventh tournament kicks off in Edmonton, Canada on Saturday 6th June with matches featuring host country Canada against China followed by New Zealand against the Netherlands, it will mark yet another milestone for the onward march of the women’s game on a world stage.Twenty four teams will be contesting the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup
, doubling the number represented at the initial tournament held in China in 1991, thus demonstrating the hold that the women’s game throughout the world.
In the forthcoming event there is wide representation on a global basis: Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria represent Africa with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand fronting the challenge from Asia/Australasia. The strong European contingent includes England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. From North America and the Caribbean comes Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA, New Zealand hold the banner for Oceania while the South American qualifiers are Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.
With the sole exception of Canada, who qualified as the host country, all these teams emerged from a grueling series of qualifying matches. The referees and other officials for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup have been drawn from each of the six confederations in the football world.
The teams have been drawn into six groups of four teams from which sixteen will emerge into the next stage – the top two in each group plus the most successful teams finishing in third place. This sixteen will fight it out for quarter final places, the numbers narrowing into semi-finals with the ultimate prize of a place in the final which is scheduled for Sunday 5th July in the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.
Who can be expected to emerge as trophy winners at the end of the day? If the bookies are to be believed, the USA Germany and Brazil are tipped to be high achievers.
The USA have a blend of youth and experience and it is expected that former FIFA World Player of the Year Abby Wambach will likely pair up with Alex Morgan to continue their partnership that led the Stars and Stripes to the Germany 2011 final. Eager to avenge their defeat in the previous final, there is a strong team belief that 2015 will be their year in what will be the USA team’s seventh appearance at a FIFA Women's World Cup – a tournament they have won twice and have never finished lower than third.
Having won twice (in 2003 and 2007), the German team have competed in every tournament since the FIFA Women's World Cup’s inception in 1991. Germany eased through their qualifying campaign, winning all ten of their group gamesin which they scored 62 goals while conceding just four. No other European side managed to hit the back of the net nearly as often. Not only do well-known stars such as FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer, Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag provide a solid backbone to the team, as well as giving it plenty of cutting edge in attack, they allow youngsters like Tabea Kemme and Sara Dabritz to benefit from their experience.
Brazil will travel to what will be their seventh FIFA Women’s World Cup as reigning six-time Copa America champions, having drawn on their much-vaunted attack to win their latest continental title in Ecuador. Having never failed to qualify for this competition, their best performance was as runners-up in China in 2007 and the team is determined to go one better this year. Brazil will be delighted at the return of five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year winner Marta with the potential support of other seasoned players including Cristiane, goalkeeper Andreia and midfielder Formiga.
Other teams who may be expected to feature highly include Japan, Sweden and France while the home advantage of the Canadian team can never be overlooked. Sport is always hard to predict. We also will be looking to see if previous goal scoring records can be equaled or eclipsed. So far the highest number of goals by any individual player at a FIFA Women's World Cup is fourteen by Marta of Brazil in 2007 and Birgit Prinz of Germany in 2003. This pair is closely followed by Aby Warmbach of the USA with thirteen and Michelle Akers also of the USA with twelve.
Three players have chalked up appearances in five different FIFA Women's World Cup tournaments – Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) and Lothar Matthaeus (Germany) who also holds the record for the highest number of matches played – 25 in all.
There is no doubt that we can be sure of a feast of excellent football which should keep many of us around the globe glued to our screens.
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