Recognition for female game's top coaches

They may not receive the same column inches as their counterparts in the male game, but women’s football has plenty of its own Sir Alex Fergusons and Jose Mourinhos. Now, for the first time, the cream of these coaches will be honoured at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala on 10 January, with the best – as voted by his or her peers, national team captains and journalists – receiving the inaugural FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award. FIFA.com looks closer at the ten candidates in the running for this new honour.

Bruno Bini (FRA), France national team
In charge of France since 2007, the former Nancy midfielder has revitalised a side that failed to qualify for the last FIFA Women’s World Cup™. The 56-year-old, who had previously enjoyed notable successes with the country’s youth sides, guided his team through a hugely impressive preliminary campaign for Germany 2011, scoring 52 goals and conceding just twice.

Choi In-Cheul (KOR), Korea Republic U-20 national team
2010 has been a year to remember for Korea Republic’s women, with the East Asians winning their first-ever world title at U-17 level and finishing third at the U-20 showpiece. Choi was in charge of the latter side, who earned countless admirers in Germany with a thrilling brand of free-flowing, high-scoring football en route to claiming bronze.

Maren Meinert (GER), Germany U-20 national team
That same U-20 tournament culminated in the first world crown of Maren Meinert’s coaching career. The former international midfielder, who helped her country to FIFA Women’s World Cup glory as a player in 2003, oversaw a flawless campaign at Germany 2011 in which the hosts won all six of their matches.

Albertin Montoya (USA), FC Gold Pride
Thirty years after his family fled Cuba for a new life in the USA, Albertin Montoya realised his very own American dream by guiding FC Gold Pride to the WPS title. The former San Jose Clash star masterminded a superb year for the California outfit, who finished 17 points clear of their closest challengers in the regular season before beating Philadelphia Independence 4-0 in the play-off final.

Silvia Neid (GER), Germany national team
Continuing where they left off in last year’s triumphant UEFA Women’s EURO campaign, Silvia Neid’s Germany began 2010 in awesome form, scoring 19 goals and conceding none en route to the final of the Algarve Cup. Back-to-back defeats by USA dented morale thereafter, but the world champions have since bounced back with wins over Canada and Australia and will take some beating on home soil in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Hope Powell (ENG), England national team
Another distinguished former player currently excelling in the dugout, Hope Powell has transformed England from perennial also-rans to a team capable of keeping pace with the world’s best. Reaching the final of last year’s EURO was an impressive achievement, and Powell – now in her 12th year as England coach – has followed that up in 2010 by successfully guiding the Three Lionesses through the Germany 2011 preliminaries.

Norio Sasaki (JPN), Japan national team
Sasaki is the brains behind the ever-improving Japanese women’s side, and has enjoyed a fruitful 2010, leading the Nadeshiko to glory at February’s East Asian Football Championship and on to qualification for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Bernd Schroder (GER), FFC Turbine Potsdam
The association between Schroder and FFC Turbine Potsdam stretches all the way back to 1971, but 2010 has been the veteran coach’s most successful year yet. It will be remembered for the former goalkeeper, 68, establishing the German outfit as Europe’s foremost club side by winning both the Frauen-Bundesliga and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Pia Sundhage (SWE), USA national team
USA may have been dealt a shock in the FIFA Women’s World Cup preliminaries over the weekend, but they remain the world’s top-ranked side thanks largely to the efforts of Pia Sundhage. The former Sweden coach will certainly be confident of bouncing back from this recent setback, having led the Americans to victory in the Algarve Cup and onwards to a 4-0 win over Germany – the world champions’ heaviest defeat in over 16 years.

Beatrice von Siebenthal (SUI), Switzerland national team
This has been a breakthrough year for Swiss women’s football, with Beatrice von Siebenthal’s side reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying play-offs for the first time in their history. Their bid to reach Germany 2011 ultimately ended in disappointment, but shock victories over the likes of Denmark and Russia underline the progress made under Von Siebenthal’s leadership.