FIFA.com reviews a hectic week of women’s international football highlighted by the conclusion to group-stage qualifying for UEFA Women’s EURO, some much-needed relief for USA and new horizons for the women’s game in east Africa.
*Late jostling marks conclusion to European campaign *
It was a drama-filled conclusion to the UEFA Women’s EURO qualifying campaign with 15 of 16 slots now filled for next year’s tournament in the Netherlands. Denmark, Italy, Austria and Russia all clinched a ticket to the continental stage on Tuesday, while Romania and Portugal will play-off in late October for the final berth. Romania could have secured first-ever qualification, but their 4-0 win over Greece left them just a goal shy of overhauling Russia as one of the best second-placed nations. Austria locked up their first participation with a scoreless draw against Wales, while Italy and Denmark also advanced thanks to wins over Czech Republic and Sweden respectively. Scotland and Belgium complete a quartet of debutant nations for the newly-expanded 16-team event, after they secured at least a best runners-up position in Friday’s round of matches.
Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland all remained perfect during qualifying, while Iceland, Sweden, England and Norway also advanced as group winners. Meanwhile, Ada Hegerberg continued her rich view of goalscoring form with a hat-trick in Norway’s concluding match – a 5-0 defeat of Israel – to finish as joint-top scorer in qualifying along with Scotland's Jane Ross and Iceland's Harpa Thorsteinsdottir, all with ten goals apiece.
USA enjoy home return
USA rebounded from the disappointment of the quarter-final exit at the recent Women’s Olympic Football Tournament with two home wins. In their first outings since Rio 2016, the dethroned London 2012 gold medallists opened with a hefty 9-0 win over new South-east Asian champions Thailand in Columbus. Carli Lloyd continued her irresistible form in the national team shirt with a stunning three-goal and four-assist showing. But the headlines were claimed by retiring midfielder Heather O’Reilly who grabbed a goal on her international farewell to finish a stellar career with 231 caps and 47 goals. The Stars and Stripes endured a tougher time three days later in Atlanta, being forced to come from behind for a 3-1 win over the Netherlands. Shanice van de Sanden gave the away side an early lead, before USA assumed control early in the second half.
Heavyweights draw fans
New France coach Olivier Echouafni commenced his national team tenure with a 1-1 draw against Brazil. Young midfielder Claire Lavogez gave France a lead inside two minutes, only for Brazil to quickly equalise via Marta following a defensive error. The international between two of the world’s top-ten nations drew an impressive 18,000-strong crowd in Grenoble.
*Tanzania claim new forged crown *
Tanzania are maiden champions of the CECAFA (Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations) Women's Championship thanks to a 2-1 win over Kenya in Uganda. Omari Mwanahamisi scored a first-half double for the Tanzanians before Christine Nafula pulled a goal back. In the play-off for third place, Ethiopia eased to a 4-1 win over the host nation.