Debutants pass first test en route to Canada

Between 4-9 April, UEFA got the ball rolling for FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ qualifying, kicking off Europe’s 18-month campaign with preliminary tournaments in Lithuania and Malta. The latter, along with Montenegro, the Faroe Islands and Albania took significant steps towards reaching the showpiece event.

FIFA.com rounds up the action from the continent’s first Canada 2015 qualifying games, at which two newcomers were swift to announce their arrival on the international scene.

Group A: Debutants Albania through to next round

With two victories, one draw and a second-placed finish, Albania can look back with pride at their performances in the mini-tournament in Malta. It was a remarkable achievement for a team making its debut appearance in a women’s competition at any level. Their success is all the more noteworthy given that they are currently a long way behind Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking. Hosts Malta were also in fine form and, following a 1-1 draw in their opening fixture against Albania, coach Pierre Brincat’s charges roared through the gears. After routing Luxembourg 6-0 in their second outing, they went on to beat Latvia 2-0 in their final match.

“It’s a huge satisfaction to top the group, especially competing with larger countries,” said Brincat. “We’ve made history for Malta with this qualification. This is the result of a lot of dedication from the players, who have come into this tournament believing in themselves. We’re looking forward to the draw on the 16th April. This was a huge learning experience for these players and it’s only the beginning. We hope to get into a good group and we’ll do our best against the more experienced nations.”

Final standings:
1
. Malta (7 points)*
2.
Albania (7)*
3.
Latvia (1)
4.
Luxembourg (1)

Group B: Faroe Islands and Montenegro on song
In Lithuania, all eyes were on Montenegro as the nation’s women’s team lined up for its first ever competitive game at full international level. An entertaining 3-3 draw with the Faroe Islands ensured it was a debut to remember. Zoran Mijovic’s side followed that up with a 2-0 win over Georgia, while a 1-1 draw with Lithuania in their final match guaranteed the team a top-two finish. “We’re very satisfied with the results we achieved in Lithuania,” coach Mijovic told the Montenegro Football Association website. “Now we have to get ready for the group stage and our opponents in qualifying. We don’t have a lot of time and we still have a lot of work to do in order to prepare the team for the upcoming challenges.”

The Faroe Islands can also start planning for the main group stage. Victories over Lithuania (1-0) and Georgia (2-1), as well as their draw with Montenegro secured Jon Pauli Olsen’s side top spot.

Final standings:
1. Faroe Islands (7)*
2. Montenegro (5)*
3. Georgia (3)
4. Lithuania (1)

*
The top two teams from each group will advance to join the remaining 38 UEFA entrants in the main group stage, the draw for which will be made on 16 April. The group fixtures, which will include home and away ties against each opponent, will be played between 21 September 2013 and 17 September 2014.

Remember you can stay up-to-date with all the latest qualifying news right here on FIFA.com. You can also find out more about Canada 2015 and the various preliminary competitions by clicking the links on the right.