FIFA Women's World Cup preview - Group F
TSN.ca's lookahead to the FIFA 2023 Women's World Cup continues with a preview of Group F that features all-time great Marta playing in her final tournament with Brazil, 2019 Women’s World Cup host France, Jamaica trying to break through and Panama making their debut on the world stage.
FIFA ranking: No. 5
Manager: Herve Renard
Captain: Wendie Renard (Lyon)
Previous World Cup appearances: Four
Major honours: None
A country that at one time seemed headed to the top of the women’s game will try to get back on track at the 2023 World Cup. Turmoil and disappointing results have plagued the French squad in recent years. The result? Clashes between players, such as captain Wendie Renard, who said she would skip the tournament, and Corinne Diacre, who was eventually sacked as head coach. Herve Renard is now in charge, captain Renard is back on the squad and France is ready to take the next step on the world stage. Coming off a quarter-final exit on home soil in 2019 and falling in the semifinal of the Euro 2022 tournament, France arrives in Australia and New Zealand with a veteran-laded squad. Alongside Renard, one of the best defensive midfielders in the game, Eugénie Le Sommer also returns to the team after two years away. The 34-year-old is France’s all-time leading scorer and has captured the Champions League title eight times as a member of Lyon. Paris St-Germain captain Grace Geyoro will be a key creator in the middle of France’s squad. Head coach Renard is no stranger to World Cup upsets as he was on the touchline for Saudi Arabia’s shocking opening victory over eventual champion Argentina at the Men’s World Cup in 2022. France will be favoured to get out of Group F, but if the side can channel that energy into the knockout stages of the tournament, this veteran team may finally take that final step and hoist a major trophy.
FIFA ranking: No. 43
Manager: Lorne Donaldson
Captain: Khadija Shaw (Manchester City)
Previous World Cup appearances: One
Major honours: None
After making their tournament debut in 2019, Jamaica is back in the Women’s World Cup still looking for their first victory. Manchester City’s Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, who has made a star turn in the Women’s Super League producing 20 goals and seven assists this season in 22 games, is the team’s captain as well as the nation’s top international scorer all-time. She was awarded the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year award in May and is in top form heading into the tournament. Havana Solaun of the Houston Dash will also play a key role for Jamaica. She scored their lone goal during the 2019 tournament in France in a 4-1 loss to Australia. Florida State Seminoles forward Jody Brown has a history of scoring huge goals for Jamaica, including a key strike that helped send them to the 2019 competition. Deneisha Blackwood will feature in the defence and played every minute in the previous World Cup, bringing much needed experience to the back end. Things have not been easy for the Reggae Girlz on their way to the Women’s World Cup, as they have faced funding issues to the point that Solaun’s mom, Sandra Phillips-Brower, has spearheaded crowdfunding efforts to generate money for the team. Jamaica was drawn against Brazil in 2019 and lost 3-0, so that will be the fixture that will wrap up Group play and could be a chance for a measure of revenge.
FIFA ranking: No. 8
Manager: Pia Sundhage
Captain: Rafaelle Souza (Orlando Pride)
Previous World Cup appearances: Eight
Major honours: Copa America (1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022)
Brazilian soccer superstar Marta has announced that her sixth Women’s World Cup appearance will be her last as she takes her bow from the tournament. Her resume is impressive, boasting 117 international goals as well as six FIFA World Player of the Year awards and three Copa America titles. The one trophy that has eluded Marta and her Brazilian teammates is the Women’s World Cup, with their closest attempt being the 2007 tournament in China, where they lost the final 2-0 to Germany. The 37-year-old enters the competition still recovering from an ACL injury she suffered playing with the Orlando Pride in the NWSL last season and could be used sparsely at the beginning of play. Head coach Pia Sundhage, who coached the USA at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and Sweden at the 2015 tournament in Canada, will have plenty of firepower at her disposal. Veteran Kansas City Current midfielder Debinha has made 134 appearances for the national team and has provided 58 goals, third all-time behind Marta and Cristiane. The team will also have a strong core of young players led by North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin and Barcelona forward Geyse Ferreira, who scored four times in 10 Champions League contests as her side captured the 2022-23 title over Wolfsburg. With their iconic leader retiring from the tournament at the end of the competition, the time is now for this Brazilian squad to add a World Cup trophy to all of the hardware they have won as the best team in CONMEBOL. One of the early games of the tournament will be their group stage rematch with France, the team that eliminated them in the Round of 16 in 2019.
FIFA ranking: No. 52
Manager: Ignacio Quintana
Captain: Marta Cox (Pachuca)
Previous World Cup appearances: None
Major honours: None
The final team to qualify for the 2023 tournament, Panama will be in tough in their first ever Women’s World Cup. They knocked off Papua New Guinea and Paraguay in an inter-confederation playoff to earn their place in the competition. U.C. Sampdoria’s Lineth Cedeño scored the goal that secured qualification, heading home a free kick from captain Marta Cox. Cox plays for Liga MX side Pachuca and her direct, attacking play will be key to the Panamanian attack. Washington Spirit forward Riley Tanner will be counted on in Panama’s offence as well, despite the fact that she has struggled to find minutes in the NWSL. The entire tournament will be an uphill climb for Nacho Quintana’s side as they are the only debutants in their group. This will be a good learning experience for a young collection of players.