The Women Take Centre Stage In Canada | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The Women Take Centre Stage In Canada

Posted: Jun 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The seventh edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will kick off today in Canada amid fraud scandal that has turned world football upside down, with FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, agreeing to step down from the post.



Despite the scandal, the 24 countries from across the globe that qualified for the tournament will begin search for glory in Canada.
Out of these 24 teams, seven have played all previous six editions of the tournament and they are, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden and USA. However, all seven sides will be at Canada 2015 where Japan will look to defend the crown it surprisingly won at the last edition, Germany and USA will be gunning for a third title, Norway aim for a second Trophy, and Brazil, Nigeria and Sweden look for their maiden championship.

Not only have USA taken part in all six previous editions,  it is the only team to have reached the semi-finals of each tournament. The Stars and Stripes won the inaugural Women’s World Cup at China PR 1991, eventual champions Norway knocked out the Americans at Sweden 1995, USA secured its second championship on home soil in 1999, it won bronze at USA 2003 and China 2007, and four years ago it succumbed to Japan on penalties in the Final of Germany 2011.

The target of these teams is a dazzling silver and gold statuette that the captain of the most intrepid and resilient outfit will hold aloft in Vancouver on 5 July.

Surprise winners at Germany 2011, Japan, propelled by the evergreen Homare Sawa, has its sights set on a second successive title, a result which will draw level with two of the three previous champions, United States (two titles) and Germany (two), and move ahead of the third, Norway (one).

That trio of powerhouses can all count on a core of players with significant experience of major international competitions. Christie Rampone may be the sole survivor from the American side that captured the World Cup in 1999, but many of her compatriots, such as Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly and Hope Solo, all have at least ten appearances at the illustrious tournament under their belts.
Germany’s formidable squad, meanwhile, features five players who brandished the trophy in 2007, including talented goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2014.

Attempting to keep these various invaders at bay will be the host nation, Canada, for whom Christine Sinclair’s firepower and Erin McLeod’s safe pair of hands will be vital in their mission to provide their long-suffering fans with an unforgettable moment of joy.
To complicate matters for the hosts, there are also a handful of dangerous and ambitious outsiders who could realistically make waves at the contest.

France, which lost out to Canada in the bronze-medal match at the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, is one such team, as is Nigeria, which, after reaching the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup last year, now entertains hopes of becoming the first-ever African side to win a major international trophy in women’s football.

Asian nations also fitting the description of dark horse include Korea Republic, which have returned to the greatest stage in the women’s game after a 12-year absence, and 1991 finalists China PR, as well as an enterprising and confident Australia side.

Elsewhere, two fast-improving countries, New Zealand, the sole OFC representatives at the tournament, and CONCACAF qualifiers Mexico, will both get a chance to see how far they have come since failing to win a single group game back in 2011.

For their part, Sweden and Brazil, finalists in 1995 and 2007 respectively, must shake off their bridesmaid labels if they are to claim a maiden World Cup title.

The Scandinavians, third at Germany 2011, will have to negotiate a tough-looking group, while the South Americans will again look to five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta for inspiration as they attempt to make up for a disappointing defeat on penalties in their 2011 quarter-final clash with USA, having initially surged through the group stage unbeaten and without conceding a goal.
Last but not least, as a result of the competition expanding from 16 to 24 entrants, no fewer than eight teams will be making their Women’s World Cup debut in Canada, namely Cameroon, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland and Thailand.
All told, 552 fearless footballers will show off their skills in six host cities (Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg), while 54 of them, those aged 20 or under, will have the chance to pick up an individual accolade in the shape of the Hyundai Best Young Player award, which FIFA’s Technical Study Group will bestow upon one deserving winner after the Final.
At the other end of the age scale, fans will have the privilege of witnessing the last performances on the world stage of legendary veterans such as Sawa (Japan), Angerer (Germany), Rampone (USA), Perpetua Nkwocha (Nigeria) and Therese Sjogran (Sweden).