It was yet another busy month in women’s football capped by the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada. Elsewhere, FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifying continues to build momentum, while the second season of the USA’s national league proved a success on and off the field. *FIFA.com *reviews all this and more in our look back at August in the women’s game.
*International football *
*Canada 2015 field grows
*The month saw England become the latest to join a growing list of nations to book a spot at next year’s newly expanded 24-team Women’s World Cup. England eased to a 4-0 win over nearest rivals Wales in Cardiff to establish an unassailable lead at the top of their group. The Three Lionesses follow in the footsteps of holders Japan, Australia, China PR, Korea Republic, Thailand and Switzerland who have already qualified to claim a place alongside hosts Canada. The upcoming month will see more nations claim their ticket with the likes of Germany, France and Norway all within touching distance of their goal. Two guaranteed berths will also be up for grabs in South America at the upcoming Copa America Femenina.
Germany reclaim crown ** **After a narrow miss two years ago, Germany won back the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a typically resilient performance in Canada. They outlasted an impressive Nigeria in the final, having taken the hard route to the top in a run that included victories over France and USA. It follows previous wins for the Europeans in 2004 and 2010; the latter on home soil. The tournament also proved a success both on and off the field, paving the way for a mouth-watering senior event next year.
*Kessler heads Euro poll *
Germany and Wolfsburg midfielder Nadine Kessler kept up the nation’s run of success during the month by winning the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award, following in the footsteps of compatriot Nadine Angerer who won the inaugural award in 2013. Wolfsburg team-mates Nilla Fischer of Sweden, and German Martina Muller finished second and third respectively. Kessler captained Wolfsburg as they won both the UEFA Women's Champions League and domestic league for the second year running.
*T&T top the region
*Trinidad & Tobago won the inaugural CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup with a 1-0 victory over Jamaica in the final on home soil, thanks to an early goal from Mariah Shade. The two finalists, as well as Haiti and Martinique, won through to October’s CONCACAF championship where Canada 2015 qualification will be on the line.
*Club football *
*Kansas flying high
*FC Kansas City made up for 2013 heartbreak by winning the NWSL with a surprise 2-1 win over Seattle Reign in the season decider. Goals in each half from Amy Rodriguez meant Kansas were never headed, despite facing a team that finished top of the league ladder in a canter losing just two games during the regular season. Last year Kansas led the competition table for lengthy periods only to miss silverware with a late-season slump. Meanwhile, Seattle scooped the pool when it came to individual honours with their Scottish striker Kim Little named the competition's best player for her league-high 16 goals. Englishwoman Laura Harvey won the coach’s award after helping the Reign to the NWSL Shield.
*Big names on the move
*Spain star Veronica Boquete headlines a host of key players making the move to Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga. Boquete will link up with 1.FFC Frankfurt as will highly regarded Wales captain Jess Fishlock. Exiting the German financial capital is poster girl Fatmire Alushi who signed for the ambitious Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the off-season.
August proved an extremely busy period for FIFA’s development programmes, which is set to continue over the coming months. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea all enjoyed girls festivals, while there were Live Your Goals events in Canada – coinciding with the U-20 Women’s World Cup - Wales, Costa Rica, Armenia, Estonia, Japan, Republic of Ireland and, over the weekend, Curacao and Panama.
The stat 19,123 – A record NWSL crowd turned out to see Portland Thorns host Houston Dash in another sign of the league’s ongoing growth in just its second season.
The quote *“We have a talented group of players, a group that want to play for the team and each other. We will continue and build on this momentum.” *England coach Mark Sampson following his team’s successful Canada 2015 qualifying campaign.