FIFA.com reviews another massive month in the women’s game with action at international and club level.
The 12-nation field for UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 was completed amid high drama, Germany and USA faced-off in two thrilling encounters, while France demonstrated their ever-increasing status in the women’s game by securing the U-17 crown.
Meanwhile, on the club front it was a glorious month for Arsenal and INAC Kobe Leonessa.
Drama concludes UEFA EURO campaign
The final three positions for next year’s UEFA Women’s EURO in Sweden have been filled by Iceland, Russia and Spain. The play-offs saw Iceland prove too strong for Ukraine, while Russia outplayed a hard-running Austria. The real drama was in Madrid as Spain lynchpin Veronica Boquete firstly missed a penalty with a minute of extra time remaining, before conjuring a winner with the last kick of the two-legged tie. The 4-3 aggregate scoreline ensured Spain, who drew with Germany earlier in the qualification campaign, progressed at the expense of an unlucky Scotland, who are still waiting to break their duck. The trio will now line up next July alongside hosts Sweden, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and reigning champions Germany.
Long-term rivals face off
USA hosted rivals Germany in two matches and the pair could not be separated in keeping with their status as one and two respectively in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking. The Europeans had the better of a 1-1 scoreline in Chicago, but they needed a late Dzsenifer Marozsan equaliser, her second of the match, to salvage a 2-2 draw in East Hartford.
Sermanni given coveted position
One of women football’s most experienced coaches has been charged with leading USA to 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ glory, with long-serving Australia coach Tom Sermanni to take the reins in January. Following eight years with the Matildas and with three FIFA Women’s World Cups on his resume, the former Asian women’s coach of the year steps into the void left by the departure of Pia Sundhage. Meanwhile, Norway will have a new coach for next year’s UEFA Women's EURO 2013 after Eli Landsem's contract was not extended following three years at the helm.
France win signifies changing of the guard
Asia’s domination of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup came to an end in Baku as France edged a penalty shoot-out win over Korea DPR. Les Bleuettes, who survived a group featuring heavyweight duo USA and Korea DPR, went through Azerbaijan 2012 undefeated, and produced the tournament’s adidas Golden Ball winner, Griedge Mbock Bathy. France’s victory follows on from Korea DPR being crowned inaugural winners in 2008, with Korea Republic victorious two years ago.
Africa’s elite shape up
The eighth edition of the African Women’s Championship kicked off in Equatorial Guinea, and the host nation made a perfect start with a 1-0 win over improving South Africa. Nigeria, like their fellow 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup finalists, endured an equally tough opening before prevailing 2-1 against Cameroon, thanks only to a late Perpetua Nkwocha winner. The eight-nation tournament is being played in Malabo and Bata, with Equatorial Guinea having also co-hosted the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
Red carpet waits
The ten nominees for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, and also the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football have been announced (see links on the right). The winner of the two crowns, currently held by Japan’s Homare Sawa and Norio Sasaki, will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich on 7 January.
Gunners continue to fire
It was a month to remember for Arsenal, who retained their English crown in style with an undefeated league campaign. Scotland striker Kim Little then scored a spectacular late winner as the Gunners defeated Birmingham City in the cup final to claim a second successive domestic double.
Leonessa building dynasty in Japan
Japan’s INAC Kobe Leonessa secured their third league crown on the trot with two matches to spare. The team, which features a host of national team players including FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning skipper Sawa, are in fine form as they prepare to host a four-team International Club Championship in November featuring European champions Lyon, Australian champions Canberra United and Nadeshiko League cup winners NTV Beleza.
October proved to be a busy month for women’s football development with projects organised across numerous member associations. The range of activities covered included football courses, refereeing courses, consultancy missions, and support for women’s leagues and girls festivals.
Together with the host member associations, women’s football coaching courses were organised in Bhutan, Guinea, and Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahrain, Korea Republic, New Caledonia, Nigeria and Tahiti.
A FIFA delegation led by FIFA Executive committee member Lydia Nsekera also visited Palestine on the anniversary of the nation’s first women’s international. The trip coincided with a match between Palestine and United Arab Emirates, with the visitors running out 4-2 victors.
18 – The number of matches since Olympic champions USA last suffered defeat. European champions Germany have now gone 17 matches undefeated, and it was little surprise when two of the globe’s heavyweights were unable to be separated in either of their recent matches. World champions Japan were the last team to beat both sides.
What they said
"In football, and in life, it’s all about timing, and with Australian women’s football quite settled at the moment, the timing of this challenge to coach the No1 women’s football team in the world was at the right time for me to accept."
New USA coach Tom Sermanni on his decision to conclude his eight-year tenure coaching Australia