- Chile set to host this year's Women's Copa America
- 2 1/2 qualification spots are on offer for France 2019
- Brazil and Colombia are favourites for the title
All eyes in South America will be on Chile for most of the next three weeks, as it hosts the Women's Copa America, which doubles up as the qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. FIFA.com sets the scene.
- When: 4 to 22 April
- Where: Coquimbo and La Serena
- Who: Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Peru (Group A); Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, and Bolivia (Group B)
- What’s at stake: Two-and-a-half places at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ *
- How: the first phase comprises two round-robin groups, with the top two from each group advancing to the final four-team phase, where teams will again play each other once. The top two will qualify for France 2019, while the third-placed team will advance to a play-off against the side that finishes fourth at this year's CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup.
* Also up for grabs are two berths at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 and four berths for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
With their record in the competition and current form, Brazil are the overwhelming favourites for the title. Led once more by five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta, but also boasting seasoned campaigners such as Formiga, Andressa, Thais, and Cristiane, Vadao’s squad is packed with the kind of leadership and experience needed to win competitions like this.
Colombia seem to pose the biggest threat to the Brazilians. The runners-up in 2010 and 2014, they have handed Nelson Abadia the task of taking them one step further. The leading figures of a side hoping to make that stride are Yorely Rincon, Catalina Usme, and Daniela Montoya, all of whom play in the newly-founded domestic league. With appearances at two Women’s World Cups already under their belts, they would like nothing better than to make a third as continental champions.
Venezuela will hope to have their say as well and contest their first senior World Cup with a group of players that have excelled at the U-17 and U-20 levels in recent years. While most of the attention will be on Deyna Castellanos, a Best FIFA Women’s Player finalist in 2017, Neily Carrasquel, Gabriela Garcia, and Ysaura Viso also have lots to offer in a side coached by Jose Catoya.
Playing on home soil could give Chile the push they lacked at the last two Women's Copa America tournaments. Led by goalkeeper Christiane Endler, La Roja also boast the likes of Maria Jose Rojas and Carla Guerrero, potentially key players who have been picking up valuable experience abroad.
Ecuador showed Chile the way four years ago, when they hosted the competition and advanced to the world finals for the first time, via the play-off route. Vanessa Arauz, the architect of that achievement, is no longer in charge, with La Tri handing the reins to former international Wendy Villon, who at domestic level has won all four national league championships held to date.
The Ecuadorians have been held back in recent years by a lack of regular international football, a problem that Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and Bolivia have also had to contend with.
La Albirroja have, nevertheless, just enjoyed an excellent South American U-20 Championship campaign, a tournament in which forward Jessica Martinez excelled. With the experienced Ruben Subeldia at the helm, the Paraguayans have good reason to be optimistic.
5 - five of the six players who finished joint top scorers in the last Women’s Copa Libertadores with four goals each will be in Chile: Oriana Altuve (Venezuela), Carolina Birizamberri (Uruguay), Catalina Usme (Colombia), Gloria Villamayor (Paraguay), and Maitte Zamorano (Bolivia). The only absentee of the six is Amanda Brunner (Brazil).
6 - the number of times Brazil have won the Women's Copa America out of the seven occasions on which it has been held. The only side to deny them the continental title so far were Argentina, who won the competition as hosts in 2006.
Did you know?
- Brazil have never missed a Women’s World Cup, an honour they share with USA, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Japan, and Nigeria.
- Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela have never reached the senior world finals.
- Still only 18, Paraguay’s Jessica Martinez is aiming to qualify for her fifth FIFA tournament, following appearances at the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2014 and 2016, plus the U-20 world finals in 2014 and 2018.
- Coaching Argentina will be Carlos Borrello, the man who led the team to the South American crown in 2006.
- Uruguay coach Ariel Longo guided the country’s U-17s to the runners-up spot at the recent South American championships in that age group.