HAPPY EASTER to you and welcome to another walk in the women’s football park as you catch up on some of what’s been going on around the world over the past week (April 15 – April 21, 2019).
If you missed the previous round-up, you can catch up on it here.
Starting off in my home country Ghana, 30 players have been called into camp by tentative national team head coach Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo. The Black Queens are preparing for the second edition of the West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B Women’s Cup, taking place from 8 May – 18 May 2019 in Ivory Coast.
In the maiden edition, which took place last year and hosted by Ivory Coast, 8 nations out of the region’s 16 fielded teams for the competition. The Black Queens reached the semi-finals after emerging second from their group which contained the host, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Led by Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo, they edged out nine-time African champions Nigeria on penalties and won the inaugural title after a 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast.
The competition will serve to keep Nigeria’s Super Falcons in shape as they head into the Women’s World Cup in about 7 weeks, although much of the opposition they will face next month like Ghana and Mali, do not quite count as quality teams. Ghana and Mali will also use this as preparation for upcoming Olympic qualifiers.
The extent of coverage that will be given the tournament is something I will definitely be keeping my eyes on as, unsurprisingly, the game in these parts is afforded virtually no attention at all from mainstream media. Certainly, this is a big issue all around the world and whilst some countries are making better efforts at giving the game the coverage it deserves, others have simply ignored it. We need to do better.
Even before the start of this year’s edition, the bidding process for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway. Member Associations (MAs) interested in hosting the tournament submitted their bidding registrations to FIFA (they were given up to April 16, 2019 to do so) and a record nine countries feel they are up to the task. They include South Africa, Bolivia, Colombia, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea (expressing a joint bid with North Korea). The various MAs have until October 4, 2019 to turn in their bidding and hosting documents.
Of the nine countries seeking the hosting opportunity, my top three to emerge successfully are Australia, South Africa, and Japan. All three have hosted successful tournaments of similar scale before and I think will definitely be up to the task. I’m especially rooting for South Africa because their dedication, in the past two or so years, to the growth of the women’s game has been unmatched on the continent.
This has resulted in their women’s national team being among the debutants in France this summer and they are set to displace Nigeria and Ghana as the continental giants in a few years. A successful bidding campaign will no doubt contribute massively to their efforts in growing the game.
Moving on, TIME released their list of 100 most influential people for 2019 and USA and Orlando Pride star forward Alex Morgan made the list. Morgan, who has 160 appearances and 101 goals for her country and is somewhat of a national treasure, was described by legend Mia Hamm as “fast, strong and fearless”. She’s joined on the list by tennis prodigy Naomi Osaka and world-class middle-distance runner Caster Semenya.
Sunday served up thrilling UEFA Women’s Champions League first-leg semi-final games which saw reigning champions Olympique Lyon and FC Barcelona come out as narrow winners over Chelsea FC and FC Bayern Munich respectively.
Lyon was very much the better side in their game against Emma Hayes’ Chelsea which was the first-ever meeting between the two sides. They were up 2-0 at half-time through a rather unfortunate own goal by centre back Magdalena Ericsson and header from Amadine Henry of a corner from Dzsenifer Marozsan. Chelsea’s Fran Kirby missed a chance from the spot to pull one back for her side right before halftime, however, Erin Cuthbert got them a vital away goal in the 72nd minute which gives them a chance going into the second leg.
The other game went into halftime at 0-0 but in the 63rd minute, Barcelona went ahead courtesy a goal from Kheira Hamraoui. Home side Bayern were not able to respond to that and will have to put up a strong performance in the second leg if they want to progress to the final.
That’s it for the recap. Have a great week and “see” you soon.