Group C: World champions to face debutant trio

Reigning world champions Japan will face a trio of FIFA Women’s World Cup™ debutants in Group C, with Switzerland, Cameroon and Ecuador all set for their tournament premieres. Sitting third in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, and having lifted the title at the previous finals, the Nadeshiko will be runaway favourites to top the group, setting up an intriguing race among the newcomers to book a place in the Round of 16.

The big game *Japan - Switzerland, 8 June 2015, BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, 19:00 local time *Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg could hardly have wished for a better draw after her side was pitted against the defending world champions in their maiden World Cup match. “We can only gain from it,” she said after learning her team’s fate. Both countries have enjoyed great success under their present coaches. Norio Sasaki led Japan to a surprising World Cup triumph in 2011 and reached the final of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament a year later, only to lose to USA. Meanwhile, under Voss-Tecklenburg’s guidance, Switzerland have qualified for a major tournament for the first time in their history. In 1991, 1995 and 1999, Voss-Tecklenburg took part in three Women’s World Cups with Germany as a player, and possesses a wealth of experience to pass on to her charges.

What else to expect The overriding question in Group C is which side will be able to reach the next round alongside Japan. Switzerland qualified for Canada 2015 in some style and, in Lara Dickenmann and Ramona Bachmann, have two of their leading players contracted to foreign clubs. Their expertise could be the difference between success and failure for the Swiss.

Ecuador coach Vanessa Arauz may not be able to boast of such well-known names in her squad, but the tactical discipline, fighting spirit and opportunism they showed in the play-offs are the South Americans’ standout qualities. Cameroon should not be underestimated, however, as coach Enow Ngachu has a hugely experienced ensemble at his disposal. In contrast to Switzerland and Ecuador, the Africans know what to expect at a major tournament, as many of Cameroon’s players participated at the London 2012 Olympics and lace their boots for foreign sides. Yet regardless of which teams seal their tickets to the knockout stages, excitement is guaranteed in this group.