Our review of all aspects of women’s football this month visits four continents, with club action highlighted by new continental champs in South America and a shock for perennial French powerhouse Lyon. On the international stage the push for FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualification continues unabated, while world No1 USA continue to fly above the pack.
Goals galore en-route to Canada 2015
There were a plethora of goals as European qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 continued over the past week. Most notably, France struck 24 unanswered goals past a hapless Bulgaria over two matches capped by 14-goal win in front of a healthy crowd in Le Mans. Germany won 6-0 and 8-0 in Slovakia and Croatia respectively to maintain their perfect start. So too did Spain, although they were made to work overtime with 1-0 win over Romania followed by a 3-2 victory over Czech Republic.
Path to Asian glory laid out
Asia’s top nations now know what lies between them and qualification to Canada 2015 after Friday’s draw for next May’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Group A features hosts Vietnam, holders Australia, world champions Japan and debutants Jordan. The other group contains China PR, Korea Republic, Thailand and Myanmar. The top five nations will qualify for Canada 2015 with Korea DPR ineligible.
Stars and Stripes fly high
USA defeated Brazil 4-1 in Orlando to complete their first calendar year under new coach Tom Sermanni unbeaten. Forward Sydney Leroux hit two first-half goals, and Abby Wambach added to her international goalscoring record with her 163rd strike, but the story of the day was midfielder Erika Tymrak who scored her first goal in only her second appearance just one minute after entering the fray. Just over 20,000 were in attendance in the largest crowd to see the Stars and Stripes play in a stand-alone friendly in the south-eastern part of the country.
Matildas bound past Chinese
Australia kick-started preparations for their AFC Women’s Asian Cup title-defence, with successive victories over China PR. The Matildas collected 2-0 and 2-1 wins in Wollongong and Sydney. Among the goalscorers for Australia in the second match was Lisa De Vanna, who was recently short-listed for the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award.
Great Dane retires
Long-serving Denmark captain Katrine Pedersen has announced her retirement at the age of 36, having accrued a national record 210 caps in 20 years of international football. Now pregnant, Pederson, whose final major international tournament was this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO, signed off in style by collecting the Danish women’s player of the year award. “The older I get the more privileged I feel about the football life I have been allowed to live," said a visibly moved Pedersen on accepting her award.
Stunning run ends
There was one talking point which stood out above all others in women’s club football during November. All conquering French champions Lyon, finalists for the past four seasons and unbeaten at home in more than seven years, were eliminated at the Round of 16 stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. German side Turbine Potsdam were the giant-slayers winning in Lyon for an away-goals victory, with Maren Mjelde scoring from the penalty spot midway through the second half in the decisive moment of the tie. The other teams that will line-up in the quarter-finals next year are holders Wolfsburg, former winners Arsenal, Barcelona, Birmingham City, SV Neulengbach, Italian champs Torres and Sweden’s ambitious Tyreso.
*Continental crown returns to Brazil *
Sao Jose are South American queens once more after reclaiming the crown they lost last year to Chileans Colo Colo. The Brazilians seemed set to exit at the semi-final stage only to find a last-gasp equaliser against Colo Colo leading to a penalty shoot-out victory, before then seeing off Colombia’s Deportivo Formas Intimas in the final.
The stat 16 – Thirteen wins and three draws saw USA undefeated throughout 2013 for just the second time during a year featuring double-digit fixtures. The only previous occurrence was in 2006 when USA won 18 and drew four of their 22 matches.
“The extraordinary growth of female participation in the modern era has changed the face of football in Australia,” said David Gallop, Football Federation Australia Chief Executive upon release of the national governing bodies’ strategic plan for women’s football.