The end of an era in England, a new award for Nadine Angerer, a triumph for Venezuela’s youngsters and the beginning of Canada 2015 qualifying for Europe’s big guns. It has been a month in which all this and more has made the headlines in the world of women’s football, and you can catch up on the main events right here in *FIFA.com’s *September round-up.
National Teams *Swiss impress, Germany flex their muscles
*The European qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 got underway last week, with Switzerland emerging as the most significant success story. A 9-0 win over Serbia was impressive enough, but following it up with a 2-0 victory away to UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 participants Iceland proved that the Swiss will be genuine contenders for top spot in an evenly matched section that also includes Denmark. Elsewhere, England, Finland, Italy and Scotland emulated the Swiss in beginning their campaigns with back-to-back wins, while European champions Germany provided an awesome statement of intent. EURO rivals Russia had been expected to provide stiff opposition, but were ultimately beaten 9-0, with no fewer than seven players finding the net for Silvia Neid’s team in a one-sided encounter.
*USA, Japan on song
*While Germany were reaffirming their Canada 2015 credentials, the reigning world champions and the current Olympic queens have been showing that they, too, will once again be formidable adversaries. Japan had arranged a double-header against African powerhouses Nigeria and emerged as comfortable winners in each match, clinching back-to-back 2-0 victories. USA, meanwhile, took on regional rivals Mexico and won by a handsome 7-0 margin, with Sydney Leroux scoring four and Abby Wambach claiming the 161st goal of her glittering international career. Coach Tom Sermanni also took the chance to blood some fresh talent, awarding first caps to midfielder Erika Tymrak and defender Leigh Ann Robinson.
Venezuelan youngsters upset order
*The traditional giants of South American football were nowhere to be seen last week as the continent’s qualifiers for next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup were decided. Indeed, the new champions at this age level are not Brazil, nor Argentina, but the surprise sensations of the South American U-17 Women’s Championship: Venezuela. *La Vinotinto emerged from the final stage of the competition with an unblemished record, having registered three wins from three, scoring 12 and conceding just twice en route to the title. They can now look forward to their second FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at Costa Rica 2014, where they will be joined by runners-up Colombia and third-place Paraguay. Chile finished fourth, while Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay failed to reach this decisive phase of qualifying.
*Angerer named Europe’s best
*Fresh from her heroics in the EURO final, Nadine Angerer was honoured by UEFA as the first recipient of the confederation’s Best Women's Player in Europe Award. The 34-year-old Germany keeper, who saved two penalties against Norway to inspire her team to yet another European crown, saw off the challenge of international team-mate Lena Gossling, a UEFA Women’s Champions League winner with Wolfsburg, and Sweden striker Lotta Schelin, who finished top scorer at the EURO. "I'm totally happy and totally surprised,” said a beaming Angerer. “This prize was so unexpected."
Club Football *Liverpool end Arsenal’s reign
*England has a new champion after Liverpool yesterday beat Bristol Academy 2-0 in a title decider. Arsenal, who had won the championship in each of the previous nine seasons, were already out of contention by the time the Reds met Bristol Academy – their only remaining rivals – in a match settled by goals from Louise Fors and Katrin Omarsdottir. It caps a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Liverpool, who had finished bottom of the table in each of their last two seasons.
*Lyon set the pace, Malmo close in
*With the title-winners decided in England and the USA, and the picture still to take shape in Germany, much of the attention in domestic women’s football is currently focused on France and Sweden. In the former, Lyon have once again emerged as the team to beat, starting the season with four successive victories, the most recent of which saw them put three unanswered goals past hosts Pairs Saint-Germain on Sunday. Malmo, meanwhile, are on course to claim a third Damallsvenskan title in four seasons. With 19 games played, they lead the Swedish league by four points from Tyreso, with third-place Linkoping a further seven behind.
*Imports boost W-League
*The new W-League season does not kick off until 9 November but, already, it is shaping up to be a landmark campaign for Australia’s top flight. Guaranteeing fresh interest in the competition is a clutch of eye-catching signings, with several foreigners among the most high-profile arrivals. The experienced USA international Lori Lindsey, for example, will line up for Canberra United, who have also secured the signature of another American, 23-year-old Stephanie Ochs. However, the biggest signing of the close season has undoubtedly been that of Nadine Angerer, with the Germany No1 committing her future to Brisbane Roar. Angerer arrives, of course, having just been named Europe’s top player, and the signing was described by Roar coach Belinda Wilson as “not only huge for our club, but a significant step forward for women’s football in Australia”.
The stat 9 – Arsenal’s record run of nine straight English league titles is now at an end. With Liverpool having taken the championship and Bristol Academy having finished second, the Gunners’ only hope of playing in the 2014/15 UEFA Women’s Champions League is to win this season’s competition, with Kairat of Kazakhstan awaiting in the last 32.
* The quote "It's huge. Not many people get to play a World Cup in their own country. I think Canada is going to do a tremendous job. It's an epic event. I want to be at the top of my game come 2015 so I can help Canada get on the podium at the World Cup," *Christine Sinclair on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 in an interview with FIFA.com.