The conclusion of the USA’s regular season title race during August coincided with a fresh start in Germany, a new era in England and the first-ever Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament. FIFA.com brings you news on all this, plus the latest on qualifying for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
Glory for Gold Pride
For the second season in succession, Marta has led her team to the WPS regular season title. FC Gold Pride, who finished last season anchored to the bottom, made sure of retaining top spot with three games to spare, this after a late penalty from the four-time FIFA Women’s World Player secured a 3-2 win at Chicago Red Stars. Marta has been a predictably influential figure for the Santa Clara outfit and leads the WPS scoring charts with 15 for the campaign, three clear of Amy Rodriguez and five ahead of Abby Wambach and Kelly Smith. However, Gold Pride’s success owes just as much to a rock-solid rearguard, with just 16 goals conceded in 20 matches thus far – the league’s best defensive record by a distance. Marta will now hope to go one better than last season, when she inspired Los Angeles Sol to the regular season crown only for the now-defunct California outfit to fall at the final hurdle in a shock defeat by Sky Blue FC in the play-offs.
Turbine, Duisburg lead the way
With two matchdays negotiated in the fledgling Frauen-Bundesliga season, defending champions Turbine Potsdam and fellow contenders FCR Duisburg have set the pace with two wins from two. The third giant of the German women’s game, FFC Frankfurt, are three points further back after a surprise opening-day loss to VfL Wolfsburg. Nonetheless, with a formidable contingent of German internationals having been supplemented by the talented Swedish forward Jessica Landstrom, hopes are high in Frankfurt that this could be their season. Elsewhere in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Hamburg have signed a skilful young Swede of their own in Antonia Goransson, who excelled at the recent FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. With the likes of Kim Kulig, Switzerland starlet Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic and Germany U-17 stand-out Lena Petermann already on their books, Hamburg is becoming a popular destination for the women’s game’s best young talent.
A new era in England
Another year, another Women’s Premier League season in England, but this time there is a major difference, with Arsenal among the familiar names missing. The Gunners, title-winners for the last nine successive seasons, are instead preparing to contest the maiden season of the new Women’s Super League. With traditional rivals Everton and Chelsea also numbering among the eight teams limbering up for this revamped top flight, which kicks off early next year, those left behind will contest the Women’s Premier League, with Leeds United currently leading after a 2-1 win at Millwall Lionesses.
Road to Germany mapped out
Where Australia, Japan and Korea DPR led the way in Asia, others are set to follow, with all remaining confederations having finalised their qualifying arrangements for next year's FIFA Women’s World Cup. The first stage of Europe’s preliminary campaign concluded last night, while Oceania are next up, with Auckland playing host to the OFC Women's Nations Cup 2010 between 29 September and 8 October. The focus will then turn to Africa, South America and the CONCACAF region, with all three set to commence their qualifying competitions inside 24 hours on 28 and 29 September. More details can be found by clicking on the qualifiers link to the right and, as always, FIFA.com will keep you up to speed with news from these various continental events. We will also be publishing an in-depth review of the race to the European play-offs later today.
Singapore success for Chile
Tuesday witnessed the curtain come down on the inaugural Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament in Singapore, with Chile emerging as the tournament’s first-ever champions. The South Americans needed penalties to see off Equatorial Guinea after an entertaining 1-1 draw that provided a fitting climax to this enjoyable new female event. Chile had gone into the final as underdogs against a side that had beaten them 4-1 during the group stage, but a steely showing – and some nerveless finishing during the shoot-out – enabled them to emerge triumphant from this six-team competition.
The highlight of FIFA’s development work in women’s football over the past month came in Guyana, where a three-day Com-Unity seminar was held in conjunction with the national association. Representatives from various sectors were in attendance as guidance was given to administrators on their roles and responsibilities, and on the support structures necessary for the development of the women’s game. There were also visits to Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean, with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tonga and Saint Lucia benefiting from women’s football courses and consultancies.
337 – the number of minutes FC Gold Pride had gone without conceding when Chicago Red Stars’ Ella Masar cancelled out Marta’s eighth-minute opener in the Santa Clara side’s 3-2 victory. The WPS regular season champions have racked up an impressive tally of eight clean sheets in 20 league matches this season.
“These girls are our future. The FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in our country two years ago has left with us a lasting football legacy, and winning the Youth Olympic title comes as the second major achievement in the history of our women's football," Rodrigo Valdes, coach of Chile’s triumphant Youth Olympic side.