Six teams through, two head home

THE DAY REPLAYED - Although most teams are a long way from home at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™, all of them are eager to extend their stay in Canada for as long as possible. However, with the final round of matches taking place in Groups C and D on Tuesday, some were inevitably going to be disappointed, while others would celebrate reaching the knockout stages. In Group C, Cameroon prevailed after going head-to-head with Switzerland for a place in the Round of 16. Things were rather different in Group D, where all four teams kept an eye on results elsewhere as they all still had a chance of going through to the next stage. At the end of the day it was Ecuador and Nigeria who were forced to pack their bags for home.

Results *Group C* Switzerland 1-2 Cameroon Ecuador 0-1 Japan

Group D Nigeria 0-1 USA Australia 1-1 Sweden

Goal of the day *Sweden – Australia 1-1, Sofia Jakobsson (15’) *Jakobsson’s equaliser against Australia proved that power is not always a must when it comes to shooting from distance. Sweden’s No10 received the ball on the right wing, cut inside and dribbled parallel to the edge of the penalty area before hitting a left-footed shot inside the near post. Despite being well positioned to make a save, goalkeeper Lydia Williams had no chance against such a superbly placed effort.

Memorable moments *Out of sight, but very much in mind *The tournament was over for Japan’s Kozue Ando in her team’s very first game after she broke her left ankle, forcing her to watch from afar as she recovers from the injury. Her team-mates have not forgotten her, however, and have taken to placing a teddy bear sporting her No7 shirt on the substitutes’ bench, making sure she is still very much a part of the action.

Musical number Upon arriving at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Nigeria demonstrated that even seemingly ordinary occasions can be made into special ones. After the Super Falcons emerged from the bus, the players, coaches and backroom staff made the short trip to their changing room singing and clapping loudly. Nevertheless, their opponents USA remained unfazed and won the encounter 1-0, leaving Nigeria bottom of the group and out of the competition.*

Into the last 16 without touching a ball *Colombia and the Netherlands were among the biggest winners of the day – and they did not even play. Instead, they probably watched the match between Switzerland and Cameroon sitting on a sofa in their hotel, and will have been happy to see Switzerland stay on three points following their defeat, the same tally as Thailand in Group B. The Dutch side ended the group stage on four points, only marginally better perhaps, but enough for the tournament debutants to be guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers. Switzerland’s frustration at losing was short-lived, as results in Group D meant they too were certain to be among the best third-placed teams, becoming the sixth side to book their place in the next round.

A taste of home Despite the considerable distance to their respective homelands, both Switzerland and Cameroon will have felt at home during their encounter in Edmonton. Fans of the former arrived at the stadium with cow bells, which they rang every time their team approached the opposition goal, almost creating the impression the match was taking place on an Alpine pasture. Meanwhile, the African supporters sang their country’s national anthem so wholeheartedly it seemed to give their side added motivation to succeed. In doing so, they played their part in helping Cameroon reach the knockout stages.

The stat 14 – Abby Wambach’s volley for USA against Nigeria was her 14th goal at a Women’s World Cup, pulling her level with Germany’s Birgit Prinz and just one behind the tournament’s all-time leading scorer: Brazil attacker Marta. With both USA and Brazil now in the last 16 in Canada, the duo can battle it out for supremacy. Christie Rampone was the second American to write her name in the record books on Tuesday, becoming the oldest player to feature at a Women’s World Cup at the age of 39.

The words “Despite the two heavy defeats in our opening games, today we showed that we deserved to be here. We deserved to qualify and we’ve defended the honour of our country. That’s the experience we can take from here and we’ll continue to work on developing women’s football in Ecuador.” **Ecuador coach Vanessa Arauz was proud of her team, who showed in their 1-0 defeat to Japan that the difference between the sides was not as big as the gulf separating the two in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, where Japan are in fourth and Ecuador in 48th.

Next matchday **Wednesday 17 June (all times given are local) Group E Korea Republic - Spain (Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa, 19:00) Costa Rica – Brazil (Moncton Stadium, Moncton, 20:00) Group F Mexico – France (Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa, 16:00) England – Colombia (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 16:00)