The draw for the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup was held today in Frankfurt, Germany, and the 16 teams that qualified found out their fate. The seeded teams in each group were Germany (Group A), Japan (Group B), the United States (Group C), and Brazil (Group D). Here’s how the groups break down: Group A: Germany Canada, Nigeria, and France. Group B: Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, and England. Group C: USA, Korea DPR, Colombia, and Sweden. Group D: Brazil, Australia, Norway, and Equatorial Guinea. The first match is Germany vs. Canada (June 26, 2011) in Berlin. Nigeria plays France on the same day in Sinsheim. The top two teams in group stage advance to the Final Stage, which begins July 9, 2011, with the winner of Group A facing the second place team from Group B. That match will take place in Wolfsburg. The finals are set for July 17, 2011, in Frankfurt.
The U.S. beat Italy 1-0 (2-0 aggregate) Saturday afternoon in Illinois to secure a spot in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Amy Rodriguez scored in the 40th minute at Toyota Park and that’s all the U.S. needed to win the CONCACAF/UEFA playoff and reach the World Cup. The draw takes place Monday, Nov. 29, in Frankfurt, Germany. The host nation, Germany, is in Group A and will play its first match on June 26, 2011, its second match on June 30, and its third and final group stage match July 5. In addition to the U.S. (CONCACAF) and Germany (UEFA), the other 14 teams that will take part in the 2011 World Cup are: Brazil (CONMEBOL), Colombia (CONMEBOL), Nigeria (AWC), Equatorial Guinea (AWC), Canada (CONCACAF), Mexico (CONCACAF), New Zealand (Oceania), England (UEFA), Sweden (UEFA), Norway (UEFA), France (UEFA), Japan (AFC), North Korea (AFC), and Australia (AFC).
All of us at Our Game Magazine would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. This is what we’re thankful for this year …
Tiffany Weimer: “I’m thankful for my unmatched creative humor, good looks, soccer talent and of course my incredibly modest sense of self.”
Bobby Weimer: “I am thankful my sister will be too comatose by food tomorrow to remember to yell at me about the magazine.”
Khaled El-Ahmad: “I am thankful for players and individuals that luv the game the way they do. Rarely do you find the same player evolvement as you do in women’s soccer. The vision and mission (and) the players involved in Our Game Magazine have taken upon themselves is inspiring not just for the fans themselves but also the game. Where in any other sport are current professional athletes taking matters in their hand, spending their free time to improve the game they love. Answer is: nowhere? This is unique, more specially than you can imagine, and I wish more athletes and people took responsibility for the profession they love to do/play. For me that is soccer luv!”
Leslie Osborne: “I am thankful for so much in my life. My loved ones being healthy and so close to me in my life. I am grateful for the opportunities and people I continue to encounter and experience in my life.”
Alyssa Naeher: “I’m thankful for my friends and family.”
Meagan McCray: “This year I’m thankful for the soccer gods keeping me healthy and giving me the opportunity to play my first minutes professionally. And within those first minutes, letting me get absolutely creamed with three goals against (Philadelphia) in a matter of 15 minutes. But on a serious note, I’m truly thankful to be living out a dream with the support of my friends and family and cherishing all the greatness and learning from all the challenges that come about during it.”
Gloria Averbuch: “Among the obvious (like good health and the dream of world peace), I am thankful for the “beautiful game” that has given my children and my family a platform for physical fitness, camaraderie, ambition, success, joy, and life lessons. And I am grateful for the increasing ability to watch the game for the sheer joy of it, and to “stay out of it” as my daughters age, and my soccer mom role fades into a mere memory–thankfully!”
Kat Galsim: “I am thankful for the turkeys who used to chase me around my grandfather’s farm. They taught me that, sometimes, farm animals are more powerful than humans.”
Michelle Chang: “I’m thankful for my teammates who are the 48 best friends that anybody can have.”
Ryan Wood: “I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with such great people, to write about the best sport in the world. I’m extremely thankful that there are 11 Dunkin’ Donuts locations on my 20-minute ride to work.”
Karie Mikel: “I am thankful to be playing a part in Our Game.”
And from our two Canadian writers, who actually celebrated Thanksgiving Day on October 11 as everyone in Canada does …
Carmelina Moscato: “I am thankful for Americans (in general), Tiffany’s sarcasm, Leslie’s fashion sense and meatballs!”
Ciara McCormack: “I’m thankful for being Canadian, getting to have someone as great as Carm from the same country and for getting to celebrate Thanksgiving and eat our turkey six weeks before Americans.”
In the August issue of Our Game Magazine, we featured the Norwegian club Lillestrøm S.K. (LSK Kvinner) in our Club Spotlight. The team was at the halfway point of the Toppserien season. At the time, LSK Kvinner had a record of 8-4 and was in fifth place heading into the one-and-a-half month break. The Toppserien season recently wrapped up, and LSK Kvinner finished mid-table (sixth place) with 11 wins, 8 losses, and 3 draws. Stabæk FK won the Toppserien with a record of 17-0-5.
For LSK Kvinner this season, 17-year-old Cathrine Dekkerhus led the team with seven goals, followed by Mari Knudsen with five, and Ida Elise Enget and Ella Masar with four goals each. Masar came on late in the season, having played a full season in Women’s Professional Soccer with the Chicago Red Stars. Masar joined LSK Kvinner in September following the WPS season. She went out on loan to the Norwegian club, making her second stint with the team. She played her first match Sept. 20 and had two assists in the 2-2 draw.
The Colombian Women’s National Team made history Sunday in Ecuador, beating Argentina, 1-0, to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. This will be the first World Cup appearance for Colombia. In addition to a win over Argentina, the Colombians needed Brazil to beat Chile in the second and final game of the CONMEBOL qualifiers Sunday afternoon, and the Brazilians did. They beat Chile, 3-1. In Colombia’s historic win, Ingrid Vidal scored in the 51st minute to send Colombia to Germany. It was Vidal’s second goal of the tournament.
Eight days ago, Alex Morgan was playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. She assisted on California’s lone goal in its 2-1 loss to Duke. Saturday in Padova, Italy, Morgan played a much bigger role on a much bigger stage and became a national hero in the eyes of U.S. women’s soccer. In the 94th minute of the U.S. vs. Italy CONCACAF/UEFA playoff, Morgan scored off an assist from Abby Wambach to give the U.S. a 1-0 win and an advantage heading into the second and final leg of the playoff (which takes place Saturday, Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., at 1 p.m. Central time. The match will be broadcast on ESPN3.com).
Following the game, Wambach talked about Morgan’s heroics: “One of the top-five biggest goals in this team’s history I think. Not that I’ve been a part of all of them, but I’ve been involved in a few big goals and for a 21-year-old to come on the field and make that kind of difference to give us the edge to potentially qualify for the World Cup … that’s huge. You can’t put a word or an emotion to it. It’s just the biggest goal of her career.”
Morgan added: “I saw that long ball and Abby is great flicking with her head, so I just tried to get myself in a good position for her to flick it on, cut off the defender once I received the ball and drove it past the ‘keeper. Great feeling.”
The U.S. not only has a 1-0 advantage, it has a one away-goal advantage, so essentially the team can play to a scoreless draw and still qualify for the World Cup.
In Ecuador Sunday, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia are looking to become the second and final team to reach the World Cup from the CONMEBOL qualifiers. Brazil is already in. Here are the scenarios for the remaining teams: Argentina can qualify if it beats Colombia and Brazil beats Chile or if Argentina beats Colombia and Brazil draws with Chile. Chile can qualify if it beats or draws with Brazil and Colombia and Argentina draw. Colombia can qualify if it beats Argentina and Brazil beats Chile or if it beats Argentina and Brazil draws with Chile. The games take place at noon (Colombia vs. Argentina) and 2 p.m. (Brazil vs. Chile) local time in Ecuador.
With its 5-0 win over Colombia Friday night, Brazil became the 14th team to qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. And even with one day left in the tournament, the Brazilians have already earned the title as the 2010 Sudamericano Femenino champions. Chile and Argentina, who played to a 0-0 draw Friday, as well as Colombia all have a shot at finishing second and qualifying for the World Cup. Saturday, Italy and the U.S. play the first leg of their two-game CONCACAF/UEFA playoff. The winner of that playoff will be the 16th and final team to reach the World Cup.
Sunday is the final day of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. The team in the worst shape is Colombia, which is 0-1-1 with one goal scored and six goals allowed. But Argentina isn’t that far behind. The Argentinians are third (0-1-1, no goals scored, four allowed). Chile is in second place and has two draws yet has only scored one goal (and allowed only one) in its two matches. There are a number of scenarios, but the easiest way for Chile to qualify for the World Cup is to beat Brazil Sunday. If Chile loses, the winner of the Colombia vs. Argentina match qualifies. If Chile draws with Brazil and Colombia draws with Argentina, Chile qualifies. There are other scenarios, and they’re all based on goal differential. Also, news out of the Brazil camp is that midfielder Maurine partially tore her hamstring in Wednesday’s win over Argentina.
U.S. Women’s National Team ready for playoff against Italy. Sundhage, Rampone, Wambach, Osborne, DiMartino comment on series
It sounds simple: win and you’re in. The U.S. Women’s National Team takes on Italy Saturday in the first of two legs of the CONCACAF/UEFA playoff, which will determine the 16th and final team to qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
During Thursday’s conference call, U.S. Head Coach Pia Sundhage, captain Christie Rampone, and forward Abby Wambach fielded a number of questions from the media. Earlier this week, two recent call-ups, midfielders Leslie Osborne and Tina DiMartino, spoke exclusively to Our Game Magazine.
Osborne talked about getting the call. “Well it was crazy, just in terms of being unexpected,” she said. “I was 30 minutes outside of NYC when Pia called me. The last week of my life was crazy and exciting. I am just happy to be here, feels good to be with everyone again. I just want to help the team be successful and find a way to win these games.”
DiMartino added: “It’s a great honor to be called into camp to help the U.S. qualify for the World Cup. I hope I can make an impact on this team whether it’s on or off the field. The environment in Italy has been very positive and encouraging. The team’s been training hard, and we are very focused.”
During Thursday’s conference call, Sundhage talked about the additions of Osborne, DiMartino, and midfielder Lindsay Tarpley. “The reason we added three players is because we wanted to change the atmosphere a little bit. It’s the training atmosphere that is important, and the trainings that we’ve been having have been great. Everybody is pushing everybody, so the fact is that by adding players, the environment will be a little bit different. Those three have done great. This is a team that is ready and recharged, including the new players.”
When asked if Italy now had more confidence going into the game knowing that the U.S. can be beat, Rampone responded: “I don’t think that would help their confidence. I don’t think they were expecting to have us as the opponent they were going to have to play twice to get to the World Cup. If it’s giving them momentum, great, because it gives us even more. It’s one loss, but we’ve grown stronger (since the defeat against Mexico). I think that’s even more intimidating, facing a team that just lost after we’ve been so successful. For us, we’re going in with confidence, and it doesn’t really matter what they’re thinking.”
Wambach talked about the differences between playing on the road vs. playing at home. “When we go up against a different opponent on their soil you are battling a lot of different factors. The magnitude of the game changes things a bit because there might be more fans and that gives you some extra nerves. This is a World Cup game for us. This isn’t the Algarve Cup where we’re training through a tournament. We’re here to win this game, and not just by one goal. We feel we have the opportunity to do that so we go into the second leg with that under our belt before we play at home in Chicago. Whenever you play on away soil there is an added level of excitement because we want to silent that crowd. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
The first of the two-game playoff is Saturday, Nov. 20, in Padova, Italy. It can be seen on ESPN3.com at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. The second game, which will be played Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, will also air on ESPN3.com. The time of that game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time.
CONMEBOL: Brazil can qualify for World Cup with one more win, Argentina on brink of elimination; WPS looks ahead to 2011
The second stage of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers kicked off Thursday night at Estadio La Cocha in Latacunga, Ecuador. Colombia, looking to make its first-ever World Cup, drew 1-1 with Chile. Colombia scored first on a goal by Yorelli Rincon, her fifth of the tournament. Chile equalized in the second half on a goal from Francisa Lara. In the second game last night, Brazil cruised to a 4-0 win over Argentina, backed by a goal each from Cristiane, Marta, Rosana, and Graziele. Brazil can qualify for the World Cup Friday night if it beats Colombia. The Argentinians will be eliminated if they lose to Chile. If Argentina loses, that sets up a number of scenarios for both Chile and Colombia to become the second South American team to qualify for the World Cup. The final day of the CONMEBOL qualifiers is Sunday.
Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) held a conference call Wednesday afternoon, addressing the media one day after issuing a press release regarding the 2011 WPS season. Tuesday, the WPS confirmed the six teams that will play in 2011 – Atlanta, Boston, Sky Blue FC, Philadelphia, Washington, and the expansion Western New York team. During Wednesday’s conference call, WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas announced the name of the expansion team – the Flash.
She also spoke about FC Gold Pride folding and the financial struggles of the Chicago Red Stars, who have until Dec. 15 to seek investors to secure a place in the WPS 2011 season. “The hurdles we faced challenged us,” Eileraas said, later adding, “We’re very pleased to be at the point where we’re at right now.”
Atlanta Beat Owner, and CEO and Chairman of the WPS BoG, T. Fitz Johnson said there will be a shorter schedule in 2011. The WPS also said it will take a break during the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Also, several media members asked about two-time WPS MVP Marta, and Thomas Hofstetter, WPS BoG Member & Sky Blue FC President said that Sky Blue doesn’t have the funding to support Marta’s salary. However, Eileraas said that Marta and her agent are looking to see if any other WPS team is interested in signing Marta.
By David Bayer
In the October issue, I told the story of our family’s relationship with the Atlanta Beat, and in particular McCall Zerboni. For those who didn’t get a chance to read it, I’ll summarize by saying that McCall has become a part of our family, and we love her.
During a conversation at our home over dinner, McCall mentioned, in passing, that breast
cancer is a subject that is near and dear to her heart. I filed that little bit of info in the back of
The next day, I set out on a mission…to find a breast cancer event where we could possibly partner and raise money for the cause. I made my way through the internet and found a local shopping center that was holding a Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness event. All of the stores would be raffling prizes, with 100% of the funds going to the cause. So, how could we raise funds? Fortunately, the Women’s National Team was practicing in Atlanta. A ball signed by the team would be a nice prize.
With all the details of the plan in place, I approached McCall with the idea. First of all, she was amazed that I actually remembered what she had said at dinner – (My wife says that a lot, too). Secondly, she thought it was a great idea. So, onward we moved with “Help the Beat beat breast cancer”. McCall got a ball signed by the National Team, a pink jersey autographed by the Beat, and an autographed photo of Abby Wambach. I secured a spot at the event, and assembled some volunteers from the Beat’s fan club, The Rhythm.
And now I’ll bring you back to the reason for the title of this article. As many of you know, WPS is going through some changes. Numerous players became free agents (including McCall).
They are without teams and their playing futures are unknown. I’m sure relationships between players and management are “strained”, to say the least. Such was the case, when the day for our charity event rolled around.
McCall showed up early (wearing a pink Beat jersey) and we started setting up. And then soon after, more arrivals: Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Kia McNeill, Brett Maron and Johanna Rasmussen, all of them Beat players who now had an “FA” (free agent) designation after their names on the roster. But there they were, wearing their Beat gear, standing under the Beat tent, and talking up the team to the crowd. They all put aside any differences they had to team
up against the same opponent – breast cancer. That’s all that mattered to them that day.
It was very heartwarming and refreshing to be a part of the “team” that day. We raised money and raised awareness for both the charity, and women’s athletics.
The Swedish Soccer Awards were held this week and Therese Sjögran, who played for LdB FC Malmö, the 2010 Damallsvenskan champions, was named Player of the Year. Caroline Seger, who plays for the Philadelphia Independence in Women’s Professional Soccer in the U.S., was named Midfielder of the Year. She was also named as one of the top 10 players in the world.
Nigeria wins African Women’s Championship, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia move to second stage at CONMEBOL
If it weren’t for two own goals late in the game, Equatorial Guinea may be calling themselves the winners of the 2010 African Women’s Championship. Instead, Nigeria came away as champions with a 5-2 win. In today’s final at Sinaba Stadium in South Africa, Nigeria went up 1-0 with a goal by Perpetua Nkwocha in the seven the minute. It was her 11th goal of the tournament. She scored in all of Nigeria’s five games. The game remained 1-0 until the 66th minute with Equatorial Guinea’s Carolina Parreira scored the equalizer. Ugochi Oparanozie then put Nigeria up 2-1 with her goal in the 77th minute. But in the 81st minute, an own goal by Equatorial Guinea gave Nigeria a 3-1 lead. That lead fell to 3-2 one minute later when Jada Sayo scored for Equatorial Guinea. And one minute after that, another own goal sunk Equatorial Guinea for good. Regardless of the outcome, both Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria are heading to the 2011 World Cup. In the third-place match today, South Africa beat Cameroon, 2-0, on goals by Nocawe Skiti and Amanda Dlamini.
Saturday in Ecuador, wins by Brazil and Colombia sent the two nations to the second stage of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. Cristiane scored twice and Marta scored once in a 3-0 win over Paraguay, while Colombia blanked Uruguay, 8-0. Colombia comes into the second stage, which begins Nov. 17, with the most goals scored (17) in the group stage. Brazil scored 13 in its four games and allowed the fewest (1). Ecuador almost shocked the world Friday. The host nation beat Argentina, 1-0, but unfortunately needed to win by more than three goals against the Argentinians to keep them out of the World Cup for the first time since 1999. Ingrid Rodriguez scored the game’s only goal. In the other Group A match Friday, Bolivia beat Peru, 2-1, backed by a pair of goals from Palmira Loayza.
The top two teams that come out of the second stage advance to the World Cup. The matches on Nov. 17 are Chile vs. Colombia and Brazil vs. Argentina. The remainder of the schedule is: Chile vs. Argentina and Brazil vs. Colombia (both on Nov. 19) and Colombia vs. Argentina and Brazil vs. Chile (both on Nov. 21).
No, it’s not an exaggeration. There is a possibility (albeit slight possibility) that Argentina and Brazil may not qualify for the second stage of the CONMEBOL qualifiers, thus eliminating them from World Cup contention.
This is how it all breaks down: Argentina seemingly has the easiest route. If the Argentinians beat Ecuador tonight, they’re onto the second stage. Ecuador needs to beat Argentina by at least three goals to reach the second stage. Chile has already qualified out of Group A. In Group B, Brazil also has what looks like an easy route into the second stage, but there is one scenario that can knock out Brazil.
If Brazil beats Paraguay, they’re in, leaving the second and final spot open for either Colombia or Paraguay. If Brazil and Paraguay draw, Brazil and Colombia advance. The one way Brazil cannot advance is if they lose by two goals or more to Paraguay and Colombia beats Uruguay. If Colombia beats Uruguay, Colombia advances. The only chance for Paraguay to move on is if Colombia’s margin of loss is at least three goals more than Paraguay’s or two if Paraguay scores at least two goals more. If not, Colombia advances. Sound confusing? It is. Bottom line, wins by Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia send those three teams to the second stage.
If Mexico’s win over the U.S. was the biggest upset in women’s soccer history, we almost had the second biggest upset last night. Brazil played Colombia and took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Cristiane and Marta. But Colombia struck less than 15 minutes into the second half on a goal by Yuli Munoz to make it a 2-1 game. The Brazilians held off the Colombia attack for the final 30 minutes in what has been Brazil’s closest match in this tournament. Colombia became the first team to score against Brazil in a WC qualifier since Brazil’s third match in the group stage of the 2007 CONMEBOL qualifiers (a 6-1 win over Bolivia, and it was a PK goal by Bolivia). It was also Brazil’s closest margin of victory in a qualifier since April 23, 2003, when the Brazilians beat Argentina, 3-2, in the final round.
Earlier yesterday in Group B, Venezuela beat Uruguay, 5-2, backed by a pair of goals from Isaura Vizo and one each from Nayle Quintero, Karla Torres, and Ariana Altuber.
Canadian Women’s National Team midfielder Carmelina Moscato, a writer for Our Game Magazine, talked about Canada’s performance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Canada beat Mexico, 1-0, to win its second Gold Cup and first since 1998. Canada went 4-0 and outscored its opponents, 17-0, in the tournament, and in the process became the 10th team to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup, where it will make its fourth straight appearance.
“For our team winning this tournament was not only a reflection of all the time and hard work everyone had put in, but it was also reflection of growth and progress since Carolina (Morace) and her staff came on board last February (2009),” Moscato said. “Canada is playing a style of soccer that is a pleasure to watch, and more sophisticated, making it a pleasure to play. The next 9 months are more exciting as ever and we have everything to play for!”
Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria qualify for World Cup, and in Ecuador stage is set for pivotal Brazil vs. Colombia match
Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea became the 12th and 13th teams to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup after winning in today’s African Women’s Championship semifinals.
Equatorial Guinea beat South Africa in overtime after both teams played a scoreless 90 minutes in their semifinal match today. Salimata Simpore took advantage of a failed clearance by South Africa in the 112th minute to put Equatorial Guinea ahead, 1-0. Equatorial Guinea then went up 2-0 after an own goal by South Africa. Then, in the 125th minute, Simpore scored her second goal of the game and third of the tournament before South Africa’s Dlamin Amanda scored in the 118th minute.
Earlier today, Nigeria beat Cameroon, 5-1, in the other semifinal game. The Super Falcons have never not qualified for the World Cup. Perpetua Nkwocha scored three goals for Nigeria and now leads the 2010 AWC with 10 goals in four games. Ugochi Oparano scored Nigeria’s other two goals, and Grace Ngock scored for Cameroon. Nigeria faces Equatorial Guinea Sunday in the AWC championship, which Equatorial Guinea won in 2008 (a non-World Cup year).
Tonight, in Ecuador, the biggest match of the CONMEBOL qualifiers takes place at the 22,000-capacity Estadio Alejandro Serrano Aguilar as Brazil takes on Cameroon, two teams currently unbeaten in Group B. This match has huge implications for Colombia. A win sends the team to the second stage and it eliminates Uruguay from the group stage. Venezuela, which is already eliminated, plays Uruguay prior to Colombia vs. Brazil. Paraguay, the other team in Group B, plays Brazil Nov. 13 and basically needs a miracle to qualify for the second stage.
In Group A action last night, Chile became the first of four teams to reach the second stage after its 3-1 win over Peru. Karen Araya scored twice and Yanara Aedo scored once for Chile. Lyana Chirinos scored for Peru. Joshelyn Sanchez scored twice for Ecuador in its 4-3 win over Bolivia. The final spot in the second stage for a Group A team is up for grabs. Either Argentina or Ecuador will advance. Ecuador must beat Argentina Friday night by at least three goals to move on.
With 13 teams now qualified for the 2011 Women’s World Cup, seven teams are fighting for the remaining three spots. Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, and the U.S. still have a shot at reaching Germany. Out of the five teams from South America, only two can qualify, while Italy and the U.S. are playing Nov. 20 and 27 in the UEFA/CONCACAF playoff with the winner grabbing the 16th and final spot in the World Cup.
World Cup qualifiers update: African Women’s Championship semifinals, Brazil loses player to ACL tear, and U.S. prepares for playoff with Italy
The semifinals for the African Women’s Championship are set for Thursday in South Africa. Nigeria takes on Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea plays South Africa. Ghana, which has played in the last three World Cups, did not advance after losing, 3-1, Monday to Equatorial Guinea. South Africa, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea have never qualified for the World Cup, and Nigeria has never not qualified.The winners of Thursday’s semifinals qualify for the World Cup and advance to the AWC finals on Monday, Nov. 14, at Sinaba Stadium.
At the CONMEBOL qualifiers in Ecuador, favorites Brazil and Argentina are unbeaten. Brazil has qualified for every World Cup, Argentina the last two. But Chile, Paraguay, and Colombia look to be legitimate contenders. All five teams are unbeaten heading into Wednesday. That’s when Peru plays Chile and Bolivia faces Ecuador in Group A action. Both Peru and Bolivia must win Wednesday to avoid elimination. Chile can advance to the knockout round if its result is better than Ecuador’s result against Bolivia. Argentina and Chile are in first and second place, respectively, in Group A. Argentina is 3-0, while Chile is 2-0-1. Even though it is not playing, Argentina can advance to the knockout stage Wednesday if Peru beats Chile and Bolivia beats Ecuador. In Group B, Venezuela was eliminated Tuesday after losing, 5-0, to Colombia. Yoreli Rincon, who scored the “Goal of the Tournament” at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany this past summer, scored one of Colombia’s five goals. Rincon and Brazil’s Marta are second in Group B with two goals scored, one back of Christiane, who has scored three goals for Brazil. The Brazilians, the runners-up at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, are 2-0 after wins over Venezuela and Uruguay.
Leah Fortune (Our Game Magazine, July 2010) got her first cap with the Brazilian Women’s National Team but was taken away by ambulance after suffering a knee injury in the match against Uruguay. An MRI later confirmed a complete tear of her ACL and partial meniscus tear in her left knee. On her blog, Fortune said she will remain with the team in Ecuador throughout the qualifiers and then return to the U.S. for surgery on her knee.
Canada capped off its phenomenal run in the CONCACAF qualifiers by beating Mexico, 1-0, Monday. The Canadians outscored their opponents, 17-0, winning their second Gold Cup and first since 1998, when coincidentally they beat Mexico, 1-0. Christine Sinclair scored a PK for Canada in Monday’s win. The U.S., meanwhile, beat Costa Rica, 3-0, to advance to the CONCACAF/UEFA playoff against Italy. Abby Wambach scored two goals and Lauren Cheney scored one for a U.S. team that is headed to Stadio Euganeo in Padua, Italy on Nov. 20. The return leg is Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. That playoff will determine the 16th and final spot in the 2011 World Cup. On Nov. 29, FIFA will hold the draw for the World Cup. U.S. coach Pia Sundhage called up Leslie Osborne to play in the playoff against Italy. Osborne, who plays for the Boston Breakers of the WPS, broke her collarbone against Sky Blue FC back on Aug. 15. She recently was cleared to play, and this will be her first time back with the USWNT since 2008.
The following teams have already qualified for the 2011 Women’s World Cup: Germany (host nation), Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, England, Norway, France, Japan, North Korea, and Australia.
In the biggest upset in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. lost, 2-1, to Mexico in the semifinals of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers Friday night in Cancun. Maribel Dominguez scored in the third minute to put Mexico ahead, 1-0. The U.S. equalized in the 25th minute on a goal from Carli Lloyd before Veronica Perez scored the game-winner in the 27th minute. It was only the second loss under Head Coach Pia Sundhage. The U.S. was 31-0-4 in its last 35 games and 21-0-0 in World Cup qualifiers up until yesterday’s loss.
In the other semifinal Friday, Canada qualified for the World Cup with its 4-0 win over Costa Rica. Christine Sinclair, Jonelle Filigno, and Josee Belanger scored for Canada, which got its fourth goal on an own goal by Daniela Cruz. Canada plays Mexico in the finals Monday, and the U.S. now must beat Costa Rica in the third-place match on Monday and then beat Italy in the CONCACAF/UEFA playoff later this month in order to qualify for the World Cup.
In the CONMEBOL qualifiers, Aline scored two goals, and Christiane and Renata scored once each as Brazil beat Venezuela, 4-0. In the other Group B match Friday, Colombia beat Paraguay 3-0 on goals from Paolo Dominguez, Maria Uzme, and Yoreli Rincon.
Last night, four teams opened up the first day of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers in Ecuador. In Group A, Argentina beat Bolivia, 3-0, with Andrea Ojeda (Boca Juniors) scoring her first two international goals and Estefania Banini adding Argentina’s third goal.
Also in Group A last night, Chile broke a 1-1 tie in the 44th minute on a goal by Daniela Pardo (Union la Calera) to beat Ecuador, 2-1. Chile took a 1-0 lead in the second minute off a goal from Nathalie Quezada, who plays for Colo-Colo of La Primera Division de Chile. Ecuador’s Monica Quintero tied the game in the 42nd minute two minutes before Pardo’s game-winner. Ecuador almost equalized late in the game, but missed a PK in the 87th minute. Today in Group B, Paraguay plays Colombia and Brazil takes on Venezuela.
Today in South Africa, Equatorial Guinea eliminated Algeria with its 1-0 win in Group B of the African Women’s Championship. Equatorial Guinea plays Ghana Monday in its final game in Group B. In the second match today, Cameroon came back from a goal down to beat Ghana, 2-1. Nigeria is still the only team that has advanced to the knockout stage. Cameroon plays Algeria Monday. On Sunday, it’s the final day for Group A with Mali vs. South Africa and Nigeria vs. Tanzania.
Tonight in Cancun, the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifiers take place with Canada facing Costa Rica in the first match followed by the U.S. vs. Mexico. The winners play Monday in the championship match. The losers play Monday in the third-place match, and the winner of that game will face Italy later this month in the UEFA/CONCACAF playoff to determine which team advances to the World Cup.
Perpetua Nkwocha’s two first-half goals held up for Nigeria in its 2-1 win over South Africa today in Group A action of the African Women’s Football Championship. With the win, Nigeria became the first team in the AWC to qualify for the knockout round. Nkwocha now leads all scorers in the tournament with five goals in two games. South African central defender Janine van Wyk, who recently returned from an ankle injury, scored in the 45th minute for the host nation. In the second Group A game today, Mali beat Tanzania, 3-2, eliminating Tanzania from the tournament. This leaves second place wide open for either Mali or South Africa. The two teams play each other Sunday, and the winner advances to the knockout round. Group B resumes play tomorrow (Nov. 5). Ghana can advance with a win over Cameroon, and Algeria gets eliminated if it loses its match against Equatorial Guinea.
Today in Ecuador, Argentia faces Bolivia and Ecuador takes on Chile in the first games of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. Group A also features Peru, which plays Ecuador on Saturday. On Friday in Group B, Paraguay plays Colombia and Brazil opens up against Venezuela. The fifth team in the group – Uruguay – plays Sunday against Brazil.
With Canada’s 3-0 win Tuesday night over Mexico, in front of the biggest crowd at Estadio de Béisbol Beto Ávila during these qualifiers, the Canadians won Group A and will now play Costa Rica Friday in the semifinals. Candace Chapman scored in the 20th minute for Canada, knocking in a loose ball in front of the net. Josée Bélanger added a goal right before the end of the half. Jonelle Filigno scored for Canada in the second half.
Trinidad and Tobago beat Guyana, 4-1, in the first Group A match Tuesday afternoon. Goals by Kennya Cordner, Rhea Belgrave, and Candance Edwards put Trinidad and Tobago up 3-0 through the first 49 minutes of play. Guyana’s Mariam Al-Masri scored in the 59th minute before Dernall Mascall got one back for Trinidad and Tobago five minutes later.
Monday, the U.S. won Group B with a 4-0 victory over Costa Rica. Abby Wambach’s PK in the 32nd minute put the U.S. up, 1-0. Lauren Cheney, Yael Averbuch, and Alex Morgan all scored in the second half to put the U.S. into the semifinals where they’ll take on Mexico (Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. local time). The U.S. outscored its opponents, 18-0, in its three games. The finals and third-place playoff game take place Monday, Nov. 8.
Haiti beat Guatemala, 1-0, Monday in its final game of the qualifiers. Adeline Saintilmond scored for Haiti, which was held scoreless up until Monday. The win for Haiti was its first in the CONCACAF Gold Cup since 2002 when it beat Jamaica. Haiti did not qualify in 2006. It was also Haiti’s first Gold Cup win under the direction of new head coach Gaspard D’Alexis.
The first set of games at the 2010 African Women’s Football Championship wrapped up this afternoon in South Africa. In Group B today, Cameroon striker Ngono Michele scored the equalizer in the 52nd minute to salvage a 2-2 tie against defending champions Equatorial Guinea. Jade Boho staked Equatorial Guinea to a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game, and in the 31st minute her team went ahead on a goal from De Santana Barbosa. Cameroon’s Manie Patiance scored at the end of the first half to pull within one.
In the second game of the day, Ghana beat Algeria, 2-1, with a come-from-behind goal in the second half by Agnes Aduako, who also scored Ghana’s first goal. In the second game yesterday in Group A, Nigeria beat Mali, 5-0. Perpetua Nkwocha scored a hat trick in the first half, and Stella Mbachu and Francisca Ordega scored a goal apiece for the Super Falcons. Nkwocha you may remember scored Nigeria’s only goal in the 2008 Summer Olympics. It came on a PK against Brazil. This season, she scored three goals for Sunnanå SK in the Damallsvenskan.
The tournament resumes Thursday with Nigeria vs. South Africa and Mali vs. Tanzania, and on Friday, Equatorial Guinea faces Algeria, while Cameroon takes on Ghana. The final games of the group stage take place Nov. 7/8.
South Africa beat Tanzania, 2-1, Sunday in the first game of the African Women’s Football Championship/World Cup qualifiers. The group stage runs through Nov. 8, and the knockout round begins Nov. 11. The tournament, held in Gauteng, South Africa, features South Africa, Tanzania, Mali, and Nigeria in Group A and Algeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana in Group B. Faith Ikidi, featured in the July 2010 issue of Our Game, is on Nigeria’s roster. The Super Falcons are favorites to win the tournament.
In the first game of the tournament, held at the Simba Stadium in Daveyton, Banyana Banyana’s Mamphasa Popela scored for South Africa in the 35th minute. Right before the first half ended, Tanzania midfielder Esther Chabruma equalized. South Africa’s Mamello Makhabane scored the game-winner on a free kick late in the game. Nigeria takes on Mali in Group A action today. Tomorrow (Nov. 2), Group B action opens up with Equatorial Guinea taking on Cameroon and Algeria facing Ghana.
Canada and Mexico moved on to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifiers with their wins Sunday night. Canada got four goals from captain Christine Sinclair, two from Jonelle Filigno, and one each from Kara Lang and Christina Julien. Mexico, meanwhile, beat Trinidad and Tobago, 2-0, with goals coming from Maribel Dominguez and Juana Lopez. Canada and Mexico play Tuesday to see who wins Group A.
The big match tonight (Nov. 1) is between Costa Rica and the U.S. The winner takes the Group B title. Haiti and Guatemala face each other in the first game of Group B action tonight.
The knockout stage begins Friday, Nov. 5 with the winner of Group A taking on the second-place team from Group B in the first match of the night, followed by the winner of Group B against the second-place finisher in Group A.