2019 Women’s World Cup Group A
As always, host country are automatically placed in Group A. France have been grouped with the likes of Norway, Korea Republic and Nigeria at the 2019 Women’s World Cup finals, meaning that they have good chances of advancing to the knockout stages. However, coach Corinne Diacre must warn her women against complacency.
France did not take part in the 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifiers as they will host the upcoming showpiece tournament. Nonetheless, les Bleues played a number of friendly games in the last two years and had a lot of success in those warm-up matches. France were scoring goals for fun in 2018, with the team beating the likes of Germany (3-0), Nigeria (8-0), Canada (1-0), Mexico (4-0), Australia (2-0), Cameroon (6-0) and Brazil (3-1). Les Bleues continued with thrilling performances in 2019 as they recorded a 3-1 win over United States of America in their first game of the year.
The triumph over USA was especially important for Corinne Diacre’s charges as the Stars and Stripes are on a quest to defend their World Cup trophy at this summers’ football festival in France. The 2019 World Cup hosts then suffered a 1-0 loss to Germany in February, but they quickly bounced back from the defeat. France impressed in four consecutive wins over Uruguay (6-0), Japan (3-1), Denmark (4-0) and Thailand (3-0) and it is no surprise they are seen as one of main favourites to lift the prestigious trophy.
Amandine Henry, Wendine Renard and Gaetane Thiney are considered the team’s key players and all eyes will be on the trio when France take on Korea Republic at Parc des Princes in the opening match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Seeing that les Bleues will play in front of home fans at the World Cup and given their splendid form, they are likely to win a medal at the upcoming tournament in their homeland.
Coach Corinne Diacre can count on a number of top-class players and if she manages to put together all pieces of the puzzle, les Bleues will surely win their first ever World Cup title. Eight years ago France won fourth place at the World Cup in Germany, which is the team’s best result at the major tournament.
Norway kicked off their 2019 World Cup campaign with back-to-back wins over Northern Ireland (4-1) and Slovakia (6-1), but Netherlands proved to be a big catch for the Grasshoppers in their third group game (1-0). The Scandinavians, though, quickly got back on course, with the team impressing in each of their last five group games. To make things even better for Norway fans, Martin Sjorgen’s women got their revenge on Netherlands and finished the process in top position in the standings, two points above the Oranje.
Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland was simply unstoppable in the 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifiers and seeing that she scored 7 goals in the process, Nigeria defenders should have her at bay when the two teams face each other in their Group A opener on June 8, 2019. Isabell Herlovsen, Maren Mjelde and Caroline Graham Hansen are likely to play important roles in Martin Sjorgen’s team as well.
Norway were on top of their game at the 2019 Algavre Cup as well, with the team beating the likes of Denmark, China and Poland at the tournament, but they failed to impress in a 1-0 loss to New Zealand in a friendly in April. Martin Sjorgen’s team will have a big fish to fry against France, but they are definitely capable of beating the likes of Nigeria and Korea Republic in the group stages of the World Cup finals. It has to be noted that Norway made it to the last 16 at the 2015 tournament in Canada.
It has been 24 years since Norway won their last World Cup trophy. Back then the Grasshoppers shocked Germany in the title game, but we do not believe that they are capable of going all the way at the upcoming tournament in France.
Korea Republic were producing fine showings at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, with the team making it to the knockout stages of the tournament in Canada. The Asian side failed to make it to the quarter-finals, but Korea fans were proud of their women after their second participation at the World Cup finals. The Taeguk Nangja have big ambitions for the 2019 World Cup, but they will have to be at their sharpest in every single match in Group A if they are to book their place in the next phase.
South Korea clinched fifth place at the 2019 Women’s Asian Cup and, as a result, they set up a meeting with the likes of France, Norway and Nigeria in the group stages of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The Koreans are seen as big underdogs in matches against France and Norway, but a win over Nigeria could see them advance to the last 16 of the showpiece tournament. Coach Yoon Deuk-Yeo has a number of talented players to choose from, but Cho So-hyun, Jeon Ga-eul and Ji So-yun will be the women to watch in the Asian team.
Korea Republic were having their ups and downs at the 2019 FFA Cup of Nations, with the team beating the likes of Argentina and New Zealand, while suffering a loss to Australia. Yoon Deuk-Yeo’s troops were beaten by Iceland in a friendly in April as well, but you should know that the 58-year-old tactician used this match to test as many players as possible for the 2019 World Cup opener against France. The Taeguk Nangja are well known for their great teamwork and, one thing is for sure, they will leave their hearts on the field in every single match in Group A. Speaking of their chances at the upcoming tournament, Korea Republic will have destiny in their hands in their second group game against Nigeria.
As previously mentioned, the Koreans take part at the Women’s World Cup finals for the third time in the national team’s history. At the 2003 tournament in USA they suffered elimination in the group stages, with the team losing to France 3-0 in the last 16 of the last edition of the World Cup.
Nigeria were not obligated to take part in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers as African sides book their place at the major tournament thanks to their ranking at the Africa Cup of Nations. Despite suffering a loss to South Africa in the group stages, the Super Falcons eventually made it to the knockout phase. By rolling over the likes of Zambia (4-0) and Equatorial Guinea (6-0), Nigeria set up a meeting with Cameroon in the semis and a close encounter was on the cards.
Experienced Swedish tactician Thomas Dennerby decided to adopt a defence-minded approach in the Africa Cup of Nations semis, with the game eventually going into extra-time. The Super Falcons managed to keep a clean sheet in the extra-time as well, with goalkeeper Tochokwu Oluehi helping them eliminate Cameroon on penalties. The history repeated itself in the title game as Thomas Dennerby’s team defeated South Africa and won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations trophy after penalty shoot-out.
Nigeria then participated at the 2019 Four Nations Tournament. The African side suffered a 3-0 loss to China in their opener, but they showed character in a terrific 4-1 victory over Romania. That triumph helped Thomas Dennerby’s troops regain a much-needed confidence, but they disappointed fans one again in February, with the team suffering a heavy 4-1 loss to Austria in the opening match of their Cyprus Women’s Cup campaign. The Super Falcons were beaten by Belgium at the tournament as well, but they proved their worth in victories over Slovakia (4-3) and Thailand (3-0).
Nigeria have nothing to lose at the 2019 Women’s World Cup finals as many football experts believe that they will serve as a cannon fodder for their rivals in Group A. This fact could prove to be their biggest advantage over their opponents and we are positive that Thomas Dennerby and his women are capable of sneaking into the last 16 as a third-placed side. Beating France and Norway is easier said than done, but the Africa Cup of Nations champions are definitely capable of making life difficult for Korea Republic.
Aforementioned first-choice goalkeeper Tochuwku Oluehi, Onome Ebi and Francisca Ordega are seen as the team’s key players, but their teammates will have to fight tooth and nail in the group stages as well if Nigeria are to repeat the success from 1999 when they made it to the World Cup quarter-finals.