Meg Cotter takes a look at the teams in Group E and F at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
Group E: Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Cameroon.
Canada previously faced New Zealand and the Netherlands in the group stage in 2015 but this will be the first time they play Cameroon.
Their best achievement at the tournament so far has been placing fourth in the 2003 World Cup in the United States after losing 2-1 to Sweden in the semi-final. The fifth-ranked team have decided they will not be taking veteran Diana Matheson and Erin McLeod to France due to injuries. The pair have a combined 321 caps for Canada.
Coach Heiner-Moller says his 23-woman squad for France tactically covers two players at every position which will spread the workload between the players.
Captain Christine Sinclair will be heading to her fifth World Cup at the age of 35 and is just five goals away from beating Abby Wambach’s record of 184 goals in international competition.
Canada have only made it out of the group stage twice and losing Matheson could have a big impact on the squad.
This is just the Netherlands’ second appearance at a FIFA Women’s World Cup and this time they have ‘The Best FIFA Women’s Coach 2017’ winner Sarina Wiegman.
The former Dutch player believes “the world has changed after winning the 2017 Euros for us” and now their expectation as a team has increased.
In Canada, they certainly stunned the crowd after drawing 1-1 with the tournament hosts and then beating New Zealand 1-0 which put them through to the round of 16 where they faced Japan.
Kirsten van de Van managed to win a header and scored the Netherlands only goal in that game after a stunning cross from Manon Melis.
Unfortunately, Japan took a 2-1 lead which eventually led them to the final of the tournament.
Lieke Martens, FC Barcelona and Netherlands national team player, is definitely one to watch.
The attacking midfielder is the ‘Lionel Messi of women’s football’ not only does she have the ‘tekkers’ and dribbling ability, she is an extremely smart player who has a great eye for the game.
If you aren’t that familiar with Cameroon, that’s because this is only their second appearance at the World Cup after their debut in 2015.
The Indomitable Lionesses had an excellent tournament performance in Canada defeating Ecuador and Switzerland with a close 2-1 loss against finalists Japan.
They reached the Round of 16 and were disappointingly knocked out by 2011 winners China.
Their coach Alain Djeumfa, has only been in his position since January 2019 but he led Cameroon through the World Cup qualification campaign.
Defender Christine Manie helped lead the team to France this summer after stealing a goal in injury time against Mali.
Manie will be playing with the likes of attacking midfielder Gabrielle Ongeune (CSKA Moscow) and forward Michaela Abam (Paris FC).
New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni and his 23-women squad have set the goal of making history and being the first team to win the World Cup after not getting past the group stages in four previous attempts.
This is also Sermanni’s fourth World Cup and he will be taking captain Ali Riley with him to carry the team through the tournament – one of the most experienced players in the squad who currently plays for Chelsea.
New Zealand will be taking a mixture of experienced players and those who are young and fresh. Six players have been selected for their first World Cup including Olivia Chance and Nadia Olla.
Hannah Wilkinson has recently come back from an ACL injury but has earned her place in the France squad through her determination and commitment to rehabilitation.
Group F: Sweden, Thailand, Chile and USA
Swedish captain Caroline Seger is currently preparing for her fourth and possible final World Cup. Without winning one yet, she is determined more than ever to finish her near-ending career with a big win.
Sweden won the ever first Uefa Women’s Euro and since then haven’t been able to reach such heights – they are no doubt a strong team but are currently ranked ninth and their group includes first ranked team USA.
In 2015, Sweden faced USA in the group stages and fought to a goalless draw. Their history of matches includes several draws and 1-0 wins between each other – a game to watch for sure.
So, who’s the player to look out for? Stina Blackstenius, a forward for Linkopings FC has already been capped 26 times at senior level.
This will be her first World Cup at a senior level and she is expected to be a starting player with hopes to get most of Sweden’s goals.
USA were supposedly having a hard time picking their 23-women squad due to having multiple contenders fighting for a roster spot.
Head coach Jill Ellis’s World Cup squad includes six players who will be appearing in their third World Cup, Carli Lloyd in her fourth and 11 players playing in their first tournament.
The squad includes keeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Ali Krieger, midfielder Julie Ertz and forward Alex Morgan.
It’s clear that Sweden will be the biggest challenge in the group stage for the US and if they get through they will have to battle close favourites England, Germany and Japan.
Chile will be making their debut at the tournament this summer – an exciting time for Chile especially as the men failed to reach the World Cup in Russia last year.
With Argentina through this year too, it’s a celebration for women’s sport in South America and hopefully the barriers that were once there over women’s football are slowly improving.
After qualifying at the Copa America 2018, Chile will face Sweden first before playing US and Thailand. Araya and Lara are two key players to the Chile side whom both also play for Sevilla FC.
The team is coached by Jose Letelier and captained by Christiane Endler.
This will be Thailand’s second appearance at the Fifa Women’s World Cup. They won their ticket by reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. They will be led by coach Nuengruethai Sathongwien and captained by Duangnapa Sritala.
In Canada, they faced Norway, Germany and Cote d’Ivoire in Group B where they finished third.
With two heavy losses against Norway and Germany, they took a 3-2 victory over Cote d’Ivoire and they therefore did not progress into the round of 16.
With only one previous experience in the World Cup let’s see if Thailand can improve their record.
Follow Megan on Twitter @megcotterX