The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is quite rightly hogging the headlines but there was plenty of action elsewhere during the past month in the women’s game.
*FIFA.com’s *regular review this month looks at the preparations of the leading teams leading into London 2012, the retirement of Germany striker Inka Grings, the domination of Brazilian-inspired Rossiyanka in Russia, the draw for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and more.
National Teams *Final preparations for London
*Many teams competing at London 2012 enjoyed a busy lead-up prior to arriving in Great Britain. USA and Canada played out the latest chapter in their keenly-fought rivalry with the former triumphing 2-1 in the final match before London 2012. Only an Amy Rodriguez strike five minutes from the end separated the teams in Sandy, Utah following a typically robust North American derby.
Canada went on to compete in a two-match, four-nation tournament in Switzerland, losing 2-1 to Brazil in what was effectively the decider. Brazilian substitute Grazielle was the unlikely hero in the closing moments after Christine Sinclair bagged a Canadian-record 17th goal of the year moments earlier. Three days previously, Brazil had defeated Colombia 2-1, while Canada coach John Herdman had the chance to match wits against his former side New Zealand and duly claimed a 2-0 victory over the Football Ferns.
Japan, USA’s nemesis in last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Final, enjoyed a more comfortable send-off match, defeating an understrength Australia with three unanswered goals. A large crowd turned out in Tokyo to cheer on the world champions, with patrons rewarded for their support as iconic Nadeshiko captain Homare Sawa scored her first goal in national team colours since returning following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury.
*Another German great retires
*16 years after making her national team debut, prolific German striker Inka Grings has retired from the national team. The 33-year-old’s career straddled a golden era for German women’s football and comes almost a year on from the retirement of fellow striker, three-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz. "In Inka Grings, we are losing a charismatic player," said Germany coach Silvia Neid of Grings, who now plies her trade for FC Zurich in Switzerland. "Young talents like Alex Popp see her as something of a mentor. The reason for that is also that she has a very professional view of her sport, which is why as coach I also enjoyed working with her."
*Path to U-17 glory confirmed
*16 aspirants now know what lies between them and a world championship after the draw for September’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was conducted in Baku. USA and Korea DPR will meet in Group B in a repeat of the 2008 final, with France and Gambia also featuring in an intriguing pool. The host nation were drawn alongside Colombia, Nigeria and Canada in Group A. Group C features Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil and Japan, while Group D includes Uruguay, China PR, Ghana and Germany.
*Club Football *Rossiyanka completed another dominant campaign in Russia, securing a massive 17-point margin over runners-up Zorkiy Krasnogorsk. The star-studded champions, who suffered just two defeats in their 28 league outings, boast a number of imported stars, including four key members of Brazil’s London 2012 side, namely Cristiane, Aline, Ester and Fabiana. Rossiyanka, though, will have to make do without coach Farid Benstiti, who stepped down from both the club and the Russia national team role due to family circumstances.
*Development *Some 100 delegates attended FIFA’s Com-Unity seminar in Ethiopia during July, with the three-day event proving highly successful. A broad cross-section of attendees were in Addis Ababa, including football representatives from around the country, representatives from the country’s successful National Olympic Committee, non-government organisations and charities, the private sector and media. Co-operation between the various groups across the nation and increasing participation rates for schoolchildren were some of the key discussion topics. The seminar comes ahead of Ethiopia partaking in October’s CAF African Women’s Championship after an absence of many years.
*The stat 5 *– The number of Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments in which Brazilian veteran Formiga has appeared. The 34-year-old, who added London 2012 to her five FIFA Women’s World Cup appearances when she featured in A Seleção’s opening match against Cameroon, became the only player to have appeared in at least one game at every Women’s Olympic Football Tournament since the inaugural edition at Atlanta 1996.
Quote of the month *"The people of Brazil and Brazilian women’s football need this gold medal. That generates pressure in itself." *Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos as his team seek a maiden gold medal at London 2012