FIFA.com reflects on an action-packed month of tournaments, titles and intriguing developments in the world of women’s football.
Africa’s queens crowned
Equatorial Guinea have returned to the summit of African football after an imperious showing at the CAF Women’s Championship. The Nzalang Nacional, who were hosting the event, overpowered South Africa 4-0 in the final, with Genoveva Anonman – the tournament’s top markswoman with seven goals – among the scorers. Equatorial Guinea duly reclaimed the trophy they surrendered two years ago to Nigeria, who this time finished fourth after losing 1-0 to Cameroon in the third-place play-off. Anonman, meanwhile, has been nominated for the CAF Women's Footballer of the Year along with South Africa midfielder Portia Modise and Nigeria’s 15-year-old goalscoring prodigy Chinwendu Ihezuo.
Matildas miss out on EAFF finals
The four-team line-up for next July’s EAFF Women’s East Asian Cup has been completed, with Australia notable by their absence. The Matildas were edged out 2-1 in China PR in Tom Sermanni’s final match as coach, enabling the Steel Roses to qualify at their expense. Wang Li Si and Zhang Rui scored the vital goals as the Chinese joined Japan, Korea DPR and hosts Korea Republic in booking a spot at the regional showpiece.
New coach for Brazil
In the same week that Mano Menezes lost his job with the men’s national team, Jorge Barcellos was sacked as coach of Brazil’s women. His replacement is Marcio de Oliveira, the man who last year led Sao Jose EC to a treble of Copa Libertadores, Brazilian Cup and Paulista championship titles.
Award nominees announced
Yesterday also brought the announcement of the nominees for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and Women’s Football Coach of the Year. USA duo Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach will go up against five-time winner Marta in the former category, while Bruno Bini, Norio Sasaki and Pia Sundhage are the trio in contention for the coach’s honour.
Japan scoops the pool in Asia
Aya Miyama collected her second successive AFC Women’s Player of the Year crown after the midfielder’s influential performances helped the Nadeshiko to a silver medal at London 2012. Japan also picked up the women's AFC Youth Player of the Year Award in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday, with Hanae Shibata named the recipient after playing a key role as the Young Nadeshiko secured third at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on home soil last September.
Euro elite in stalemate as Muller says farewell
France came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw with fellow UEFA Women's EURO 2013 contenders Germany, whose 32-year-old forward Martina Muller said farewell to international football. Verena Faisst scored in the second minute, only for Corine Franco to equalise midway through the first half for Les Bleues in Halle. Meanwhile, across the border the Netherlands defeated Wales 2-0 at home with Sylvia Smit scored on her 100th international appearance.
Lyon triumph in Japan
Less than a month before hosting the FIFA Club World Cup, Japan staged an ambitious female competition, the International Women's Club Championship. The event pitted Japan’s champions, INAC Kobe Leonessa, and cup winners, NTV Beleza, against European queens Lyon and Canberra United, winners of Australia’s W-League. Ultimately, it was the French side who took the trophy, although they needed extra time – and a decisive Sonia Bompastor penalty – to secure a 2-1 final win over Leonessa. Beleza, beaten 5-2 by Lyon in the semi-finals, claimed bronze with a 4-3 win over Canberra in the third-place play-off.
US announce new league
Teams from Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Western New York, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle and Washington DC will compete in an all-new professional women’s league in USA as of next spring. The new set-up was announced by US Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who confirmed that – in order to avoid the financial problems of previous incarnations – his organisation will play a major role in organising and running the league. US Soccer will also subsidise the salaries of up to 24 of their national team players in the league, while the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federation of Mexican Football have pledged to do likewise for 16 and 12 of their own internationals respectively.
Colo Colo make history
Chileans Colo Colo became the first team from outside Brazil to win the Copa Libertadores, beating Parana outfit Foz Cataratas 4-2 on penalties following a goalless final. Karen Araya starred for the Santiago club and was named player of the tournament, while Sao Jose striker Cristiane finished top scorer with seven goals.
First titles for Nordic duo
There were maiden championships for LSK Kvinner FK and Tyreso FF in Norway and Sweden respectively, with the latter snatching the title on goal difference thanks to a decisive Madelaine Edlund strike eight minutes from the end of their final league match. It was a little more comfortable for Kvinner, meanwhile, who won the Norwegian crown with a game to spare thanks to a four-goal burst from star striker Isabell Herlovsen.
Iwabuchi joins Hoffenheim
The prize for the most eye-catching transfer of the past month undoubtedly goes to German second-division outfit Hoffenheim, who strengthened their promotion-chasing side with the 19-year-old Japan international Mana Iwabuchi. The skilful playmaker, a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner with her country and player of the tournament at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008, has signed a contract until 2014 with the ambitious Sinsheim outfit.
0 – The number of goals conceded by Equatorial Guinea in five matches en route to claiming the African title. Nor was the Nzalang Nacional’s success based solely on a solid defence, with 18 goals scored at the other end.
"I haven’t decided yet what to do next year. Actually my plan was not to play this year, so now I've told everyone not to listen to me because everything I say is not true at the moment. Maybe it'd just be nice to take this tournament as the last one.”
Solveig Gulbrandsen speaks to FIFA.com about her possible participation in next year’s UEFA Women’s EURO