There has once again been news and significant events aplenty during September in the captivating world of women’s football. In addition to the long-awaited return to action of a world-class performer and several important coaching changes, the finest youth national teams of the planet have also been catching the eye in Japan and Azerbaijan. FIFA.com takes a look at the best of the action during the last 30 days.
*Sundhage replaces Dennerby
*After drawing a line under her time at the helm of recently crowned Women’s Olympic Football Tournament winners USA, hugely respected coach Pia Sundhage is heading back home. Her five-year spell with the North Americans now over, come December the 52-year-old Swede will take charge of her homeland’s senior side, who came third at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. She will be replacing current incumbent Thomas Dennerby, the Scandinavian nation's supremo for the past eight years. “The decision to step down was mine alone,” underlined Dennerby, 53.
Kulig’s nightmare finally ends
Fourteen months after rupturing her cruciate ligament, an injury that took place minutes into Germany’s quarter-final against Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil, young starlet Kim Kulig is finally back on the global stage. The 22-year-old midfielder reappeared in mid-September in Germany's 7-0 win in Kazakhstan, a qualifying encounter on the road to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013. “I’m very happy,” said a beaming Kulig following the game.
*Play-off thrills on the horizon
*The play-off ties for those teams looking to clinch the final available berths at EURO 2013 in Sweden are as follows: Scotland-Spain; Ukraine-Iceland and Austria-Russia. The first legs will take place over 20 and 21 October, with the returns on 24 and 25. The winners of the three ties will complete a line-up already featuring hosts Sweden, France, England, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands and reigning continental champions Germany.
*United States’ run ends in Azerbaijan
*On the back of the USA women picking up Olympic gold at London 2012, the country’s U-20 girls followed that up with triumph at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. Their chances of completing a remarkable treble at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 came to an end, however, as they narrowly failed to negotiate the group stage. For all the information, previews, reports, exclusive interviews, videos and photo galleries from the U-20 and U-17 showpieces, click on the links on the right-hand side.
Arsenal rule in England yet again
Arsenal Ladies secured their second consecutive FA Women’s Super League title and their ninth successive championship in England on the final day of the month. A 3-2 victory over Doncaster Belles ensured the Gunners retained the trophy they won in its inaugural edition last year with one match to spare. Arsenal have remained undefeated in their 13 fixtures to date, sitting eight points clear of nearest rivals Birmingham City.
*Continental heavyweights click into gear
*The most fancied sides in this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League showed steady nerves in the first legs of their Round of 32 ties. Reigning champions Olympique Lyonnais, for their part, inflicted a crushing 7-0 away win on Finnish side PK-35 Vantaa, and Arsenal also won on their travels when beating FC Barcelona 3-0. Bundesliga champions Turbine Potsdam, meanwhile, were 3-1 winners away to Belgium’s Standard Femina de Liege. A more delicately balanced tie is the meeting of Swiss champs FC Zurich against French league runners-up FCF Juvisy, who drew 1-1 in the Alpine nation in the first leg.
Kahlert and Frankfurt part company
Sven Kahlert stepped down as coach of seven-time Women’s Bundesliga winners 1. FFC Frankfurt after a shock 3-1 defeat against SGS Essen, despite the team lying second in the standings with six points from three games. Stepping into the club’s dugout on an interim basis are Kahlert’s former assistants, Philipp Dahm and Kai Rennich. Next up for the caretaker duo on Sunday are none other than table-toppers Potsdam, who have won both their opening two encounters.
69 – Australian striker Sarah Walsh has called time on a national-team career that has seen her win 69 senior caps, scoring 32 goals in the process. The 29-year-old frontrunner has been part of the Matildas’ set-up for eight years, representing her country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007 and the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004. Walsh is also one of the few Australian players that has competed in the pro game in the United States.
What they said
“She’s an example for thousands of women. If I had to pick just one of her qualities, I’d go for her heading ability. I can still see picture those two [headed] goals she scored against United States at the Olympic Games,” said Canada U-17 attacker Summer Clarke, speaking about Canada’s striking icon Christine Sinclair, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. Sinclair herself also recently spoke to us and set her sights on victory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 on home soil (click on the link on the right-hand side to read the full interview).