**After yesterday’s Opening Ceremony kicked off the action at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, there is plenty more in store today as two newcomers face tournament veterans in the next fixtures. Both Germany and Norway have participated at every Women’s World Cup so far, but their respective opponents, Côte d’Ivoire and Thailand, are making their competition debuts.
Match of the day
Germany – Côte d’Ivoire, Ottawa, 7 June, 16.00 (local time)*
*Germany are one of the favourites to take the title in Canada thanks to their triumph at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 in Sweden and their astonishing qualifying campaign for these finals; Silvia Neid’s side romped to the top of their group without dropping a single point in ten games, scoring 62 goals in the process. They will also be keen to make amends for the disappointment of exiting the 2011 tournament on home soil in the quarter-finals.
**Their first step en route to doing so involves overcoming debutants Côte d’Ivoire, who are nevertheless out to cause a stir at the competition. The Africans gave a statement of their intent during qualifying by beating an Equatorial Guinea side that took part at the 2011 finals. Coach Clementine Toure’s team are a compact outfit whose strength lies in performing as a unit, and that will be the foundation of their game plan as they look to get the better of Germany.
The other match
Norway – Thailand, Ottawa, 7 June, 13.00 (local time)
The Scandinavians are making their seventh tournament appearance and are determined to lift the title for a second time, despite failing to reach the final since being crowned world champions in 1995. They were even knocked out in the group stage at the last edition in 2011. However, as numerous members of Even Pellerud’s squad were also involved four years ago, they will be hoping to use that experience to help them this time.
By way of contrast, newcomers Thailand have no such advantage as they prepare to make their tournament bow. The Asians, who booked their ticket to Canada after finishing fifth at the AFC Women’s Championship, are a well-drilled team under coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian, and the players know each other well as the majority of them also played together at youth level.
*Player to watch
*Ada Hederberg may be the second youngest member of Norway’s squad but she has already forged a fearsome reputation after scoring 33 goals in 30 games for her club Lyon this season. The Thailand rearguard will therefore need to keep a close eye on the 19-year-old striker, who is unsurprisingly one of the frontrunners to take the ‘Hyundai Young Player Award’.
67 *– Sitting in 67th place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, Côte d’Ivoire are the lowest-ranked side taking part at Canada 2015. Their first opponent, Germany, currently top the global standings.
*“It’s always important to pick up three points in the first game because then you don’t run the risk of putting yourself under pressure and needing to get points later on. It’s also important as it gives you the feeling you’re finding your feet at the tournament and helps you get into the groove.” **Celia Sasic, Germany striker.
*Norway – Thailand (Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa, 13.00)
Germany – Côte d’Ivoire (Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa, 16.00)
All times local