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Canada hosts FIFA women’s world cup for first time

Courtesy Jason Gulledge

Courtesy Jason Gulledge

By Fabian Mayer, June 4 2015 —

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway this week with matches in six Canadian cities. It is the biggest and most prestigious soccer tournament ever hosted in Canada. The hosting honours are significant, as Canada’s youth participation rates are high, but general national interest in soccer still remains low.

The Tournament —

For the first time in its history, 24 nations will take part in the tournament, up from 16. This may result in some less competitive group matches, but it shows the overall growth of the sport among women worldwide. First time participants include countries like Thailand, Ecuador and Cameroon.

The group stage consists of three matches for each team. The top two teams from each group plus the four teams with the next highest point totals qualify for the knockout stage. The tournament begins on June 6 and takes place over the course of a month, with the final set for July 5 in Vancouver.

The Hosts —

Canada has a strong core of experienced players that includes forwards Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi, alongside goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The country also has some promising young talents like 17-year-old midfielder Jessie Fleming.

Canada has only made it past the group stage once in World Cup history. But they enter this year’s tournament as the highest ranked team in their group and should have no problem reaching the knockout stage. While they may not be favoured to win it all, a deep run from Canada can’t be ruled out, especially with a home crowd behind them.

The Contenders —

Japan won the tournament in 2011, beating the favoured United States in a penalty shootout to become the first Asian nation to win the cup. The team has retained many of their players from their emotional win and enter the tournament eager to defend their title.

The perennial contenders, the Americans, look poised to challenge for the title once again. They’ll undoubtedly be fueled by memories of losing last tournament’s final. Despite tough odds in the group stage, bookmakers give the United States’ squad the best chance of winning the cup.

Two European soccer powerhouses also have a good shot at the title. France finished fourth in the 2011 tournament, but come in as the third-ranked team this time around. Germany, the only country to repeat as champions (in 2007 and 2004), will try to follow up the success of their men’s team, who won the World Cup in Brazil last year. If the women’s team wins, it will be the first time any country has held both World Cup titles at once.

Brazil leads the South American countries as the club with the best shot at reaching the final. Their fate seemingly rests in the hands of forward Marta, a five-time FIFA female footballer of the year often compared to Brazilian soccer legend Pelé.

The group to watch —

The most interesting group is likely Group D, which includes the United States, Sweden, Australia and Nigeria. The first three teams are all ranked in the top 10. With former United States coach Pia Sundhage now running Team Sweden, the group matches won’t be short on intrigue. The United States should make it out of the group, but who joins them in the knockout stage is anyone’s guess.


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