In the latest edition of our monthly round-up of the women’s game here at FIFA.com, we spotlight an American icon’s comeback and report on qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™, as more and more teams around the globe set out on the road to Germany.
Climax approaches for European elite
At the top of the women’s game in Europe, Germany once again edged out England as FCR Duisburg overcame Arsenal LFC in the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals. Defending champions FCR – who last season won the predecessor trophy, the UEFA Women's Cup – are now relishing the prospect of an all-German showdown in the last four against Turbine Potsdam. The two leading clubs from the host nation for the 2011 global match-up will in fact cross swords four times in the space of three and a half weeks, as they also meet in the league and in the German cup semis. "They’ll be the best games of the season," declared Germany starlet Fatmire Bajramaj, formerly of Duisburg and now with Potsdam. In the second Champions League semi-final, Olympique Lyon take on Umea IK.
Pro league in England moves towards launch
A radical new structure for the English top flight is slowly but surely taking shape. The English FA has announced the eight clubs who will compete in the FA Women’s Super League from March 2011. Arsenal Ladies, Birmingham City Ladies, Bristol Academy Women’s FC, Chelsea Ladies, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Everton, Lincoln Ladies and Liverpool Ladies have all been granted two-year licenses for the new competition, intended to provide a stronger foundation for nurturing local talent, and a more attractive framework to help retain players who might otherwise be tempted to move abroad.
Keen anticipation in the USA
On the domestic scene in the nation currently atop the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, Washington Freedom meet Boston Breakers on 10 April in the official opening match of the WPS pro league season. The following day, Chicago Red Stars take on champions Sky Blue FC, who now have Pauliina Miettinen at the helm. The 37-year-old Finn’s declared aim is to lead the New Jersey club to renewed triumph, while favouring a more European style of play.
Germany on the horizon
The qualifying competition for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 is now underway in Africa. DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Namibia, Senegal and Tanzania have all come through home and away eliminators and claimed places in the first round proper. The Caribbean nations have also turned their attention to the global get-together in just under a year and a half, with the start of the regional eliminators for the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. In Europe, the next qualifying matchday is this coming weekend.
For full information and qualifying results, follow the links to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™ portal in the Tournament section here at FIFA.com.
One of the great personalities of recent times is poised for an eagerly-anticipated comeback to the international arena. At the age of 38, Kristine Lilly has been recalled to the USA senior squad, and is set to feature in a friendly double-header against Mexico next week. Lilly, the world record-holder with a phenomenal 342 international caps, is the only player to appear in all five FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the inaugural tournament in 1991.
Confidence-booster for Aussies
The leading lights in the Asian game are currently deep into preparations for the AFC Asia Women’s Championship, which also serves as the continental eliminator for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011. In a warm-up double-header, Australia and Korea DPR indicated they will again be the teams to beat, but are also exceptionally closely-matched. The first game ended 2-2, with the second match heading the same way until rising Australian starlet Kyah Simon netting a last-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win.
Canadian glee in Cyprus
The North American giants have spent the last few weeks making ominous statements of intent in Europe. The USA beat Germany in the final to claim the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal yet again, while at the parallel tournament, the Cyprus Cup, the honours went to Canada. Midfield dynamo Diana Matheson struck the only goal of the final as Carolina Morace’s side beat New Zealand. The triumph means the nation which occupied fourth spot at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003 move back into the top ten of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking. The Netherlands beat Switzerland 3-0 to seal third place.
For a full FIFA.com report from the Algarve Cup, follow the News link in the right navigation.
Stars and Stripes shocked
For the first time ever, a Women’s World Cup finals held under FIFA auspices will take place without the USA. In qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago, the US starlets fell to eventual competition winners Canada on penalties. Mexico will be CONCACAF’s second representatives at the finals. Elsewhere, the line-up for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010 in Germany is now complete – and holders USA are safely part of it.
For comprehensive coverage of the build-up to both FIFA World Cup finals in Germany, and the tournament in Trinidad and Tobago, navigate to the relevant portal in the Tournaments section at FIFA.com.
Two firsts for UAE
In its very first appearance in a regional competition, UAE’s national squad has won the third edition of the WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) women’s tournament, organised in Abu Dhabi from the 20th to the 28th of February. The winning team never lost a game en route to the title, beating the Jordanian champions in the final 1-0.
Also participating in this tournament where the Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Iran and Jordan national squads, the latter being led by the professional player Stephanie Al Naber.
In February, FIFA organised three different formats of activities in three different confederations: in Laos, a two-week consultancy helped assessing the local needs in terms of Women’s football development. In Mali, 27 local coaches were trained on several topics including technical skills, goal-keeping, health and sports nutrition. In Israel, a seminar on Women’s football was conducted during three days.
In March, two consultancies were organized in Africa, in neighbouring countries Uganda and Tanzania, and a coaching course was held in Russia.
3 - Olympique Lyon have won the French league title three times on the trot, but the stranglehold could be broken this term as the champions are third with only seven games to go. Undefeated Paris St Germain lead the standings and are six points clear of Lyon, although Olympique have a game in hand. Juvisy FCF, a club from the south of the Paris conurbation, currently occupy second spot.
"Marta is the best player in the world. I’m sure the two of us will score lots of goals in the coming season," France international Camille Abily on her new FC Gold Pride team-mate and FIFA World Player of the Year Marta.