2015 Womens World Cup PreviewPosted: June 6, 2015
Tonight the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway in Canada with the host nation taking on China in Edmonton to kick-start Group A before New Zealand play the Netherlands in the second match of the day later on at the same venue.
The Matildas first match of the tournament will be on Tuesday morning Australian time when they take on the United States in Winnipeg, before games on the 12th against Nigeria also in Winnipeg and the 16th against Sweden in Edmonton. Those games will be the mornings of July 13 and 17 here in Australia.
Group D was quickly labelled the Group of death at the draw last year, with the United States of the big favourites for the tournament, while Nigeria are the current African champions and Sweden are regulars in the latter rounds of the World Cup.
All of that means that should Alen Stajcic’ side emerge from the group stage for a third successive time, it could well be their greatest accomplishment on this stage, and after pushing World Champions Japan to extra time in last years Asian Cup final anything is possible.
It’s been an interesting build up for the Matildas to this tournament, with coach Stajcic having much more preparation time for this tournament than last years Asian cup when he took charge just weeks before the tournament. Australia came agonizingly close to defending their title, losing out to Japan in the final but since then they’ve had a string of internationals and camps to prepare for the task ahead of them.
The squad itself is full of both talent and experience with 13 of this squad backing up from four years ago in Germany. There’s plenty of fresh talent injected however with midfield duo Steph Catley and Katrina Gorry set to play an integral part in the tournament. There was however no place for all-time top scorer Kate Gill, who was controversially left out of the 23 player squad.
The first game in any tournament is always an important one as it can set the tone for a successful campaign, but Australia’s task could scarcely be more difficult in the shape of the United States. Many of this US squad made the final four years ago in Germany and are out to set the record right this time with experience and quality all over the park and with Hope Solo in goals, captain Megan Rapinoe in midfield and sharpshooter Alex Morgan upfront they figure to be at the sharp end of the competition once again.
Less is known about Australia’s second opponent in Nigeria, but as African Champions they shouldn’t be underestimated. Striker Perpetua Nkowcha, who has 80 goals in 98 appearances for her nation figures to ne a handful for the Australians.
Should it come down to the third game in the group like it often does in tournament play, the Matildas will be running into another vastly experienced side who are used to progressing to the later sides. The Swedes enter this tournament with no fewer than 12 players with at least 50 caps for their country.
Obviously the Matildas squad is stacked with players from the Roar, but Brisbane’s involvement in this World Cup however isn’t restricted to just the Matildas with Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer representing her native Germany at the tournament.
Germany have been drawn in Group B alongside Ivory Coast, Norway and Thailand. Angerer has previously announced that this tournament will be the end of her international career, with her club career ending at the conclusion of the US season.
All up when you include Angerer there are eight Brisbane players in the tournament with the German captain joining Matildas Clare Polkinghorne, Elise Kellond-Knight, Katrina Gorry, Laura Alleway, Larissa Crummer, Tameka Butt and Hayley Raso in Canada.
Best of luck to the Matildas in this tournament, we’ll bring you updates on their games as they happen on social media, while SBS will be showing the games live.