FIFA.com’s new weekly review of women’s club football this week’s turns its attention to Asia and Oceania. International football took centre stage across most of the globe with a heavy schedule of UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 qualifiers, 2011 Pan American Games and African Olympic Women’s Football Tournament 2012 qualifiers all taking place over the weekend.
In Australia, the new season commenced with a host of international names set to enjoy a Southern Hemisphere summer, led by USA's Megan Rapinoe and long-serving Germany defender Ariane Hingst, who will make her debut next weekend. Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand national league season is still in its infancy, while in Japan, a two-way race to the line is being played out between the competition's heavyweights.
Australia’s W-League: New season, new faces
The new league season kicked off Down Under with the seven-team competition to be played over 12 rounds, followed by a two-week finals series to determine the champions. The opening round was marked by the appearance of a growing number of international players; a number that has grown exponentially over the three previous seasons of the competition. The headline-grabbing name last weekend was Rapinoe, who turned out in the sky blue of perennial title challengers Sydney FC. However, despite an impressive performance, the Germany 2011 star was unable to lift her side to victory against champions Brisbane Roar as the pair played out a 1-1 draw in their grand final rematch. The stalemate allowed Canberra United to claim early bragging rights at the top of the table. A 4-1 win at Adelaide United was inspired by doubles for Michelle Heyman and Caitlin Munoz. Melbourne Victory are second on goal difference thanks to their 2-0 victory over Perth Glory.
Japan’s Nadeshiko League: Finish lines draws close
With four rounds remaining, champions NTV Beleza cemented second place in the nine-team league with a 2-0 win on the road against Albirex Niigata Ladies, while Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies recorded a 3-2 triumph over Yunogo Belle to remain a further five points adrift in third. The star of the round was Iga FC Kunoichi’s Yoshie Matsunaga, who bagged a treble in her team’s 4-0 victory at Fukuoka J. Anclas. The midfielder joined the club after previous side, TEPCO Mareeze, were forced to suspend team activities this season following March’s earthquake. Despite not playing on the weekend, Homare Sawa’s INAC Kobe Leonessa remain at the summit enjoying a three-point cushion, although their meeting with Beleza early next month is likely to decide top spot.
Top three: INAC Leonessa (34); NTV Beleza (31); Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies (26)
New Zealand’s ASB Women’s Youth League: Contrasting fortunes for pacesetters
The second week of New Zealand’s national competition, which permits just three players aged over 20 at any one time, saw Mainland remain at the top of the Southern Conference with a comeback 4-2 win over Football South. It was a different story in the other Conference as Northern Football took an outright lead with a resounding 5-0 win over previous leaders Auckland. Hannah Wilkinson scored another double for Northern to join Rebecca Tegg at the top of the scoring chart on four goals. It was a second brace in as many weeks for Wilkinson, who featured in all three of New Zealand’s matches at Germany 2011. The weekend’s big winners, however, were Waikato, who overpowered Northern Conference Development 7-0 with Olivia Chance the team’s goalscoring heroine thanks to a hat-trick.