The climax of the inaugural season in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in the USA took centre stage in August, with Western New York Flash and Portland Thorns locking horns in the final. It was also an exciting month in FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014 qualifying, as Germany, France, England and Finland were first to book their tickets to the tournament.
Hope Powell shown the door
After 15 years as coach of England’s women's national team, Hope Powell was dismissed on the back of the Three Lionesses' disappointing showing at the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden. England failed to make it out of the group stage following two defeats and a draw at the tournament. Under Powell, whose tenure started in 1998, England qualified for four European championships, losing the 2009 final against Germany. The strategist also led the side to the quarter-finals of two FIFA Women's World Cups™ (2007 and 2011). Brent Hills, coach of the country's U-23 ensemble, will take temporary charge of the seniors during qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015.
Iceland’s coach steps down
The English Football Association are not alone in their search for a new coach for their senior women’s team, with Iceland also scouring the market following Siggi Eyjolfsson’s decision to step down after seven years at the helm. Iceland qualified twice for the European championships since he took the reins in 2006, losing all three games in 2009 but reaching the last eight in this year’s edition. “The results exceeded our expectations,” said Eyjolfsson, who is now looking for a new challenge. “It’s nice to be able to stop after such a big success, where we recorded our best results at a European Championship and lifted the national team up to a new level.” Iceland will face Denmark, Switzerland, Serbia, Israel and Malta in Canada 2015 qualifying.
Maiden NWSL title on the line in USA
In April eight teams, reaching from Seattle and Portland in the west to Washington, New Jersey and Boston in the east, kicked off a new era in the USA with the start of the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League (NSWL) season. Now, four months down the line, Western New York Flash and Portland Thorns brought the curtain down on the maiden campaign where Thorns emerged as champions, taking down the hosts 2-0 with goals from a fine Tobin Heath strike in the 40th minute and Canadian international Christine Sinclair adding an insurance tally in the 92nd minute. New York, who boast FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Abby Wambach in their ranks, overcame Sky Blue FC 2-0 in their last-four meeting, while Portland beat FC Kansas City 3-2.
The league title might only be awarded to one team, but several individuals still picked up NWSL silverware of their own. Kansas City’s Lauren Holiday was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for 2013, pushing Wambach into second place in the vote. And, if that were not enough, Holiday also took home the Golden Boot as top goalscorer, having found the net 12 times in 18 games. Indeed, Kansas dominated the awards, with team-mates Nicole Barnhart honoured as Best Goalkeeper, Becky Sauerbrunn named Best Defender and Vlatko Andonovski winning Coach of the Year.
Champions League line-up completed
The clubs set to compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32 have now been finalised ahead of the draw on 5 September, which will also determine the Round of 16 pairings. FC Zurich (SUI), Konak Belediyespor (TUR), Spartak Subotica (SRB), MTK Hungaria (HUN), RTP Unia Raciborz (POL), PK-35 Vantaa (FIN), Apollon Limassol LFC (CYP), Glasgow City LFC (SCO), Parnu JK (EST) and FC Twente (NED) all made it into the pot following success in the qualifying round, which took place from 8 - 13 August. They will jostle with the 22 teams given a bye into the round of 32 for continental supremacy.
Inaugural UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe award
On 29 August Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery was voted UEFA’s Best Player in Europe for 2012/13 by leading football journalists. Accordingly, this year the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe honour will also be handed out for the first time. At the end of August the three shortlisted candidates were revealed, with two Germany internationals, Nadine Angerer and Lena Goessling, vying with Sweden’s Lotta Schelin for the award, which will be presented by UEFA President Michel Platini on 5 September.
Three seminars for female referees were held in August, with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Grenada and Costa Rica, hosts of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014, staging the events. The aims of the courses are, among others, to create a global standardisation in training female referees; to outline the guidelines in gauging the quality and performance of member associations and their domestic footballing structures, and instilling a uniform interpretation of the rules of the game. Furthermore, numerous women’s football courses were also offered. Ethiopia, Vanuatu and Burkina Faso were among the hosts, while FIFA organised a course for the first time in Panama.
3 - A trio of amateur Thai players wrote their names into the record books in leaving their homeland to join the Japanese Nadeshiko League. Pitsamai Sornsai, Kanjana Sungngoen and national team captain Naphat Seesraum became the first players from their country to make the move.
“The girls want to do more, and they are very eager to win a medal. It is not normal to do so with such a young team. But they have very good spirit, so we will try and figure out how we will do it together,” Australia national team coach Hesterine de Reus looks ahead to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015.