While there is a sense of calm before the coming storm on the international front as teams limber up for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, the club scene is just hotting up, with a title decided in Australia and Germany’s big two battling it out. As February draws to a close, FIFA.com rounds up the main events in the female game.
Club Football *Roar on top Down Under *
Brisbane Roar claimed their second Australian W-League title in three seasons with a 2-1 grand final victory over arch-rivals and reigning champions Sydney FC. The Sky Blues had finished the league season three points clear at the top of the table but it was the Roar who edged the play-off decider, exacting revenge for a 3-2 defeat in last season’s final. Matildas star Lisa De Vanna grabbed the winning goal midway through the second half while the Roar’s other goalscorer, Tameka Butt, was named player of the match.
*Dominant duo do battle, Duisburg wield the axe
*The race for the Frauen Bundesliga title is developing into one of the tightest and most dramatic in recent memory, with no room for error between the leading duo of Turbine Potsdam and FFC Frankfurt. Turbine are in pole position to successfully defend their title, but their rivals remain just a point behind after a month in which neither has dropped a single point. Frankfurt, in fact, have racked up an aggregate score of 26-0 in their February matches thus far, and boast a goal difference 36 superior to the leaders. Four points further back in third place are FCR 2001 Duisburg, who despite reaching the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals, sacked coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg earlier this month following back-to-back domestic defeats to Turbine and Bayern Munich.
*Ground broken in Palestine
*The female game’s growth around the world continued earlier this month with the launch of a first-ever 11-a-side league in Palestine. Previously, women’s football in the troubled nation had only ever been played on an indoor, five-a-side basis, but a crowd of 11,000 turned out to give enthusiastic backing to the opening match of this new division. Deyara Bethlehem beat Sareiat YMCA Ramallah 2-0 in this historic encounter, and with the national team competing in ever more regional and continental tournaments, Palestinian women’s football looks set for a bright future.
*Hopefuls set off for Algarve and Cyprus
*The Algarve and Cyprus Cups have become well-established fixtures in the women’s football calendar over recent times, and both will carry even greater interest this year. That’s because, with the FIFA Women’s World Cup just a few months away, these fiercely-contested tournaments are sure to be seen as an indicator of what we can expect from the various contenders at Germany 2011. Teams began arriving in Portugal last week for the Algarve event, which kicks off on Tuesday, with holders USA up against the likes of Japan, Norway and 2009 winners Sweden. Another five Germany-bound teams are heading to Cyprus, meanwhile, where Canada, England, France, New Zealand and Mexico will be aiming to signal their intent ahead of the female game’s showpiece event.
*Germany 2011 hits the road
*While tickets continue to sell like proverbial hotcakes at home, Germany have been taking the FIFA Women’s World Cup on the road with their Welcome Tour of the other 15 participating nations. The tour has taken in stops at Oslo, Paris and London since our last monthly round-up, with Organising Committee chairman Steffi Jones leading the efforts to promote not only the tournament but also women’s football as a whole. More information on the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Welcome Tour events can be found by clicking the links on the right.
The stat 510,000 – The incredible number of tickets that have now been sold for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The fourth phase of ticket sales came to an end on Sunday with 80,000 fresh orders having been received, and all tickets for Germany’s group games – save for restricted view seats – have been sold out.
The quote *“The biggest [area of] development has been in technique. There are no longer huge gaps between teams in terms of performance, which wasn’t the case before... The next step will be tactics. Reading the game and making decisions when play is in full flight will be the next challenge,” *USA coach Pia Sundhage on women’s football’s progress and main area for improvement.