2010 promises to be a massive year for women’s football, with the on-field action rapidly intensifying at both international and domestic level. This month, FIFA.com takes a look at the prestigious Algarve Cup, impressive success for both Germany and Japan, plus a host of qualifying action for Germany 2010 and Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
Two-horse race in Germany
Turbine Potsdam and FCR Duisburg are still in a head-to-head race for the Frauen-Bundesliga title. Both clubs remain unbeaten after 13 matches, though Potsdam have taken a two-point jump on their rivals after Duisburg could only achieve a 1-1 draw at SG Essen-Schonebeck last weekend. The two sides will have the chance to claim bragging rights over the Easter weekend when they square off in the German Cup semi-finals.
Prodigious goalscoring talent
Rising teenage star Kim Little has continued her remarkable goalscoring form for Arsenal. The young Scot has now scored 34 times in just 21 appearances this campaign, putting her 26 goals clear of the Gunners' next-highest scorer. Little recently hit her fifth hat-trick of the season as Arsenal beat Doncaster Belles 5-0 to reach the FA Women's Cup semi-finals.
English cup joy
Joining Arsenal in the cup semis are Everton, for whom England striker Jody Handley scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers. However, Mo Marley's ambitious side were the victims of a shock defeat in the English League Cup final, with England youth representative Ellen White scoring a double to secure secured the first silverware in the Leeds Carnegie's 20-year history with a 3-1 win.
WPS expands, Marta moves on
The second season of the WPS in the USA will see the competition expand to a 24-game regular season schedule in which each of the eight teams will host 12 home matches. The league will commence on 10 April and conclude on 26 September with the grand final. The WPS has lost last year’s inaugural regular-season winners LA Sol, who have withdrawn. One of the consequences of the Sol's demise was a 'dispersal draft' of their players, the highlights of which were Marta's move to FC Gold Pride and Saint Louis Athletica's capture of Shannon Boxx and Aya Miyama. The opening of the first-ever stadium built specifically for a WPS team will also take place when Atlanta Beat Stadium hosts its first match at the new arena in May.
Hot on the Algarve
The highly-regarded Algarve Cup kicked-off overnight with a rusty USA defeating Iceland 2-0 in a match that witnessed US goalkeeper Hope Solo save a penalty in each half. Six-times champions USA will face Norway next before rounding out their Group B commitments against last year’s winners, Sweden. The 12-nation tournament has Germany, Demark, China and Finland in Group A, while Group C contains Portugal, Austria, Romania and the Faroe Islands.
Japanese regional pride
Japan’s improvement in recent years continues unabated, with the Nadeshiko winning the recent EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) Championship ahead of China, Korea Republic and Chinese Taipei. Evergreen captain Homare Sawa was named player of the tournament, while teen prodigy Mana Iwabuchi made her highly-anticipated senior debut ahead of May’s qualifying tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.
World champions march on
February was not so promising for another East Asian team, with Korea DPR succumbing 3-0 to Germany in Duisburg. Rising stars Fatmire Bajramaj, Simone Laudehr and Celia Okoniyo da Mbabi each scored headed goals to ensure a positive start for the 2011 World Cup hosts.
More young teams headed for world stage
It was a busy month of qualification action for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010 with a USA side inspired by the prolific Sydney Leroux joined by Mexico and Costa Rica as CONCACAF participants, while regional giants Canada suffered a surprise failure. In Africa, Ghana and Nigeria both took a giant stride towards qualification by winning away in the first leg of their playoff against Congo and South Africa respectively. Meanwhile, three CONMEBOL sides have secured passage to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Brazil won the qualifying tournament in emphatic fashion and will be joined by Chile and Venezuela, with the latter to become the nation’s first female side to take part in a FIFA global showpiece.
"The World Cup is a great experience. I know our team is ready for it, but I know we still have a long way to go. I have so much belief in my team and I’m so excited to go the distance with them," USA U-20 striker Sydney Leroux.