May proved to be a big month both internationally and domestically for women’s football. There was a catalogue of international matches as 24 national teams fine-tuned for the fast-looming FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™. Meanwhile at club level it was trophy time across much of Europe.
FIFA.com wraps up the month in women’s football ahead of the quadrennial showpiece in Canada.
Headlining the international action was world champs Japan who secured two hard-fought 1-0 wins on home soil over New Zealand and Italy. Olympic champions USA recorded far more emphatic victories on home soil, defeating Republic of Ireland and Mexico 3-0 and 5-1 respectively. European powerhouse Germany maintained a more low key approach with a lone 3-1 win over Switzerland this week. Neighbours France edged a 2-1 win over Russia, and then a 1-0 victory over Scotland. Further afield in Abidjan, a match between Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire went the way of the latter, 3-2.
Final cast confirmed
The 552 players who will seek glory at Canada 2015 was confirmed this week with the usual galaxy of stars set to be present. A host of former FIFA World Women’s Player of the Year recipients will be on hand including Japan’s evergreen Homare Sawa, USA veteran Abby Wambach, Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and, of course, Brazilian female football royalty Marta. Several players, though, will be absent for a variety of reasons with reigning world player of the year Nadine Kessler failing in her bid to recover from long-term injury, while Norway starlet Caroline Hansen sadly fell victim to injury more recently. Germany wide midfielder Fatmire Alushi recently announced she is pregnant, while Australia’s all-time top goalscorer Kate Gill was not selected.
Old favourites return to continental summit
There were promising portents for Germany ahead of Canada 2015 as 1.FFCFrankfurt ensured the UEFA Women’s Champions League crown remained on German soil. Despite a relatively modest domestic campaign where they finished third, Frankfurt edged a 2-1 win over first-time finalists Paris Saint-Germain in Berlin thanks to a late Mandy Islacker winner. It was a fourth European crown for Frankfurt, and first since 2008. Wolfsburg, who had claimed the previous two titles but were eliminated by PSG in the semi-finals, were forced to make do with a German Cup win over Turbine Potsdam earlier in the month.
Month of silverware
May proved to be a busy period for trophy engravers across Europe as respective seasons across the continent concluded. Bayern Munich won a maiden Bundesliga title in dramatic circumstances by overhauling reigning champions Wolfsburg on the final day. There was also a new name on the trophy in the Be/Ne league as Belgium’s Standard Liege were crowned, as was the case in Austria with a coronation for FSK St. Polten-Spratzern. Meanwhile in Italy. Verona ended their six-year title drought.
FIFA’s development work in women’s football continued apace across many parts of the globe during May. Canada enjoyed a host of Live Your Goals festivals across the breadth of the country leading up to the Women’s World Cup. Across the other side of the Pacific Ocean a well-attended Girls Festival was conducted in Pyongyang, Korea DPR. There was much activity also across Oceania, most notably a coaching course in Papua New Guinea with participants travelling from far and wide in the highly ruralised Melanesian country.
57 – The number of goals scored in 68 matches by the always-prolific Anja Mittag during a three-year stint at Swedish powerhouse Rosengard. Mittag will now aim to continue that form for Germany at Canada 2015 ahead of her move to Paris Saint-Germain.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have a major advantage going into this tournament because we know Canada and we have Canadians behind us.” Canada coach John Herdman