Women Crush Wednesday #WCW : Group A
With a little over six weeks left until the Women’s World Cup starts, I think it’s time we get to know the teams and get prepared for the best Women’s World Cup to date. Starting from the top with Group A of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Group A is composed of France, Korea Republic, Norway, and Nigeria. Games will be played from June 7 to June 17. The six group winners and six runners-up advance to the knockout stage along with the four best third-placed teams from the six groups.
The host country, France is probably a crowd favorite. Les Blues have some of the best players in the world and arguably one of the best leagues. Most players are coming from or have played for the best women’s club in the world – Lyon (13 domestic titles and 5 Champions Leagues). However, major international tournaments are not their strong point. France is regularly tipped to win in major tournaments but somehow get tripped up early on.
It’s hard to speak of Lyon and not their first Ballon d’Or Féminin winner, Ada Hegerberg of Norway. Norway is no stranger to the big dance. They won the tournament in 1995 and were runner-up in 1991. There most recent showings have not been ones to talk about but they are still considered one of the elite teams. They are looking solid going into the tournament having won all their games in the group stages but they will be playing without Hegerberg, who has stepped away from the national team as a stand against unequal treatment. Even without her, the Norwegians have a strong team and a solid chance to make it out of the group.
Korea Republic is not coming into the tournament scared. They have participated in the finals before and are ready for battle. Kicking off the tournament against France, the world will be watching to see if Ji Soyun can get her country, like her club Chelsea, to the semi-finals (her amazing goal at home against Lyon was not enough to see Chelsea going to Budapest for the Women’s UEFA Champions League Final.)
Nigeria is not new to the Women’s World Cup tournament. In fact they have played all 7 previous editions and made it to the quarterfinals once. With strong leadership from the coach, Thomas Dennerby, who guided Sweden to a third place finish in Germany 2011, he will help the Super Falcons soar and get out of Group A. Last year the U-20 Falconettes made it to the quarter-finals of the tournament and the senior team are poised to follow suite.
Head Coach: Corine Diacre
Who to Watch: Amandine Henry
Fun Fact: Coach Diacre is the first woman to ever lead a professional men’s football team in France.
Head Coach: Martin Sjorgen
Who to Watch: Maren Mjelde
Fun Fact: In 2017 Norway became the first country to pay their men and women’s football team equally.
Head Coach: Yoon Deokyeo
Who to Watch: Ji Soyun
Fun Fact: They qualified by finishing 5th in the AFC Championships
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby
Who to Watch: Asisat Oshoala
Fun Fact: All Nigeria teams are nicknamed with birds: MNT: Super Eagles, WNT: Super Falcons, YMNT: Flying Eagles and Golden Eagles, YWNT: Flying Falconettes
The tournament will kickoff at the Parc Des Princes with France taking on Korea in the opening match. I think the obvious choice in the bracket will see France take the first position and Norway the second. I am not sure Korea or Nigeria have it in them to get enough points to be one of the top 3rd place teams but since this is a World Cup, I think it’s fair to say that anything can happen.
Next Wednesday we will look at Group B: Germany, China, Spain, and South Africa.
Do you have any questions about the tournament? Women’s football? Or anything else related to the sport? Please feel free to contact me directly or leave an inquiry in the comments below.