The first FIFA Women’s World Cup game in Augsburg puts together two teams who have never met before on the international stage, namely Norway and Equatorial Guinea. The match also marks the Africans first official game away from their own continent as well as tournament debuts for coaches Eli Landsem and Marcelo Frigerio respectively.
Norway - Equatorial Guinea, Wednesday 29 June, Augsburg, 15.00 CET (local time)
It is understood that Marcelo Frigerio has been working hard to shore up the Nzalang Nacional’s defence after the Africans conceded nine goals during the preliminaries for Germany 2011, more than any other qualified team. With players of the calibre of Isabell Herlovsen, Lene Mykjaland and Leni Laursen Kaurin, Norway certainly have the ability to score goals – and lots of them.
History shows us that Norway’s previous games against African sides have ended in emphatic victories. In 1995 the Gresshoppene thrashed Nigeria 8-0 while at China 2007 they also inflicted a heavy 7-2 defeat on Ghana. However, with temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius expected in Bavaria on Wednesday, the conditions may favour the Africans, who were runners-up at the African Women’s Championship.
Equatorial Guinea were the highest climbers in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking last year, rising eight places to 62nd (they are now 61st). They will be hoping to continue that progression, but will need a good opening result in a group which also includes Australia and Brazil. Although Norway will respect their debutant opponents, they may see this fixture as an opportunity to boost their goal difference which may be crucial come the end of the group phase on 6 July.
40 – Norway have registered more victories than any other side in qualification for the FIFA World Cup, with 40 wins out of their 50 qualifiers. The Scandinavians are also on a 28 game unbeaten run in qualification, stretching all the way back to 1998.
"I’m very happy about our preparation. Our confidence is good. We’ve been together for three weeks now and we’re ready. It’s been very difficult to prepare for this match because we don’t know much about Equatorial Guinea – so we have trust our own skill." Eli Landsem, Norway coach
"We know it’s not going to be easy because Norway are a good team and they are ranked fourth in the world. We’ll do our best to do what the coach has shown us and hopefully that will be enough, but we’re not expecting it to be easy," Anonman, Equatorial Guinea captain