Tribal Football

The Week in Women's Football: Argentina anger; T&T collapse; Japan impress ahead of Paris

The Week in Women's Football: Argentina anger; T&T collapse; Japan impress ahead of Paris
The Week in Women's Football: Argentina anger; T&T collapse; Japan impress ahead of Paris
The Week in Women's Football: Argentina anger; T&T collapse; Japan impress ahead of ParisLille Olympique Sporting Club
This week, we continue our look at some salient women’s internationals during the June FIFA window, including games involving El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua from CONCACAF taking five of six matches from three South American opponents.

Argentina defeated Costa Rica twice despite player turmoil, as well as a condensed tournament in Curacao with invitees Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba, with each team playing four games within a week with a couple of quite surprising results.


From CONMEBOL, we look at games involving Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Uruguay, India, Iran, Japan and Uzbekistan from AFC, Morocco and DR Congo from CAF and New Zealand from Oceania. From UEFA, Belarus and Russia had games in Iran and Uruguay, respectively. (Note: See our column last week with news about U.S. full national team and U-20’s playing two games against Korea Republic, Canada and Mexico’s two matches, Jamaica and Brazil’s two matches and Australia’s two game set against China: The Week in Women's Football: Hayes enjoys impressive start with USA; Australia do China double -


CONCACAF teams defeat CONMEBOL sides in two friendly series

Guatemala splits two games with Chile at home, El Salvador does the double over Bolivia while Nicaragua overcomes Peru in two games at home.

Guatemala defeated Chile 4-3 in Guatemala City on May 29. Guatemala’s Andrea Alvarez (21), who scored six goals this season in 25 matches with Eibar of the Spanish second division (see: The Week in Women's Football: Reviewing English, Scottish & Spanish Leagues; Barca win Quad - scored three goals for the winners, while Maria Urrutia (30) scored a brace for the CONMEBOL side—she plays for local side Colo Colo.

On June 6, Chile bounced back to defeat Guatemala 6-1, again in Guatemala City, with two goals by Chile’s Karen Araya (33), who scored seven goals in 28 games this season with CF Madrid in her second campaign with the club. Guatemala’s Andrea Alvarez (21) tied the match just after halftime. Chile scored four more goals in the last 37 minutes to finish well on top.

El Salvador travelled to Bolivia and came back with two wins, winning the first match 2-1in Cochabamba May 31, with Victoria Sanchez Meza (19) of Texas State University scoring two goals in the second half, including the winner in the 94th minute, while Bolivia opened the scoring just before halftime through Jhylian Mary Mamani Huarachi (19). On June 3, El Salvador took a 2-0 win over Bolivia, again in Cochabamba, with goals by Sanchez Meza and midfielder Samantha Fisher (24) of the Chicago Red Stars. The vast majority of Bolivia’s players are domestic base, while two have played at lower division sides in Spain and Italy.

On June 1, Nicaragua (with a FIFA national team ranking of 118) defeated Peru 1-0 in Managua, on a first half goal by Yessenia Flores (24) who has played with Saprissa in Costa Rica; Peru was rated (75) but ahead of only Bolivia (104) for CONMEBOL ratings. In Copa America Femenina in 2022, Peru was horrid and finished at the bottom of their group with a 0-0-4 and a 0-18 goal difference, identical to Bolivia, who had a slightly better goal difference (1-16). Peru has a few players at U.S. colleges and a few abroad in Norway, Spain and Colombia. On June 4, Nicaragua did the double with another 1-0 win over Peru, this time in Esteli, with Yessina Flores again scoring the only goal.


Argentina takes a pair of friendlies from Costa Rica at home despite roster turmoil

Argentina defeated Costa Rica 2-0 twice in a pair of games on May 30 in Caseros and June 3 in Vicente Lopez, both cities in Buenos Aires Province, which were most notable by the fact that four Boca Juniors players boycotted the national team to protest consistent poor salary payments and sub-par training conditions while on national team duty.

Goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros (30), midfielder Lorena Benítez (25), and defenders Julieta Cruz (28) and Eliana Stábile (30) withdrew from training, explaining that they received substandard meals on national team duty and weren’t paid expenses ahead of the Ticas matches by the Federation, who argued that they didn’t have to since the games were held at home, in greater Buenos Aires.

Cruz, who has over 20 caps for Argentina and has played her entire career in Argentina, said on social media: “We reached a point in which we are tired of the injustices, of not being valued, not being heard and, even worse, being humiliated. We need improvements for Argentina’s women’s soccer national team, and I am not only talking about finances. I speak about training, having lunch, breakfast.”

Players families also had to pay for tickets for the games—5,000 Argentinian Pesos or about US$5.50. Benitez, who has played in Brazil with Palmeiras on loan and is nearing 25 caps, added to the discussion: “Do I leave my children, my family, my club, my job, to go to a place where they don’t value us as athletes, where they can’t give us the basics? We have been carrying a lot of things throughout all these years of representing our country, many colleagues have left for the same reasons, for feeling sadness and not joy every time it is time to be there.”

Oliveros is approaching 20 caps and played in Chile with Santiago Morning and Stabile has over 60 caps and played in Colombia with Atletico Huila, in Brazil with Santos and with both BA giants River Plate and Boca Juniors. The average monthly salary for female footballers in Argentina’s Primera División is $203,500 (US$225), so most players work or go to school.

The Argentina Football Association (AFA) did later announce that they would pay expenses for the games but we are talking about a few hundred dollars for a Federation that won the top prize money of $42 million for their men’s national team winning the World Cup in Qatar in late 2022—some of which but certainly not all went to the players. It will be interesting to see if the AFA punishes the players for standing up for their rights by not calling them into future camps.

Argentinian-American Sophia Braun (24) played 90 minutes in both games, which is encouraging as she has not played in any games thus far this season with the undefeated Kansas City Current. She played last year with Leon in Liga MX Femenil after her collegiate career at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.


Uruguay ties and defeats Russia’s WNT in two home friendlies

Uruguay hosted Russia’s WNT for two matches during the latest international window; the visitors are suspended by UEFA and cannot participate in global event qualifiers run by the European federation. On May 30, the two teams tied 1-1 and on June 3, Uruguay defeated Russia 2-1, again in Montevideo. In the first match, Belén Aquino (22), who plays in Brazil with Internacional, opened the scoring after 30 minutes but Medeya Zharkova (20), who has played at home with Krasnodar for five seasons, scored the equalizer for Russia in the 54th minute.

In the second game, La Celeste Femenina dug itself in a hole with a Russian goal by Ksenia Dolgova (19) of Lokomotiv Moscow, but then captain Pamela González (28)—who plays with Sevilla in Spain—equalized. In the second half, Belén Aquino scored the winner, her second goal of the series. The result was historic for Uruguay’s women’s team as it was the first time they had ever defeated a European team, as Russia is rated in the latest FIFA national team rating as 26th, over 40 places above Uruguay in 69th place.

Head coach Ariel Longo of the women's senior team called up 26 players for the Russia matches. Six players were based with clubs in Argentina, with another half-dozen in Brazil, four in Spain, two in Portugal and one each in Mexico, Peru, Turkey, while five are based at home.


Sofía Olivera (Belgrano -Argentina)

Agustina Sánchez (Platense -Argentina)

Josefina Villanueva (Nacional)



Maytel Costa (At.Mineiro-Brazil)

Daiana Farías (Cruzeiro-Brazil)

Alexia Da Silva (Ouriense-Portugal)

Sofía Ramondegui (Avaí Kindermann-Brazil)

Stephanie Tregartten (Peñarol)

Carina Felipe (River Plate-Argentina)

Stephanie Lacoste (Universitario-Peru)

Yannel Correa (Sporting de Huelva-Spain)



Karol Bermúdez (Red Bull Bragantino-Brazil)

Luciana Gómez (Botafogo-Brazil)

Pamela González (Seville-Spain)

Ximena Velazco (Fatih Karagümrük-Turkey)

Micaela Domínguez (Peñarol)

Pilar González (Peñarol)

Sindy Ramírez (Racing-Argentina)

Solange Lemos (Querétaro-Mexico)



Valentina Morales (Eibar-Spain)

Wendy Carballo (Peñarol)

Belén Aquino (Internacional-Brazil)

Esperanza Pizarro (Eibar-Spain)

Alaides Paz (Belgrano-Argentina)

Keisy Silveira (Amora FC-Portugal)

Sofía Oxandabarat (Talleres-Argentina)


Aruba celebrate
Aruba celebrateAruba Football Federation


Aruba wins Caribbean Queens Friendly Tournament in Curacao—Trinidad and Tobago’s lack of preparation hurts them as they lose to both Aruba and Curacao and finish second

On May 28, Curacao opened their Caribbean Queens Friendly Tournament 2024 in Willemstad with a 3-2 loss to Aruba. Aruba then fell the next day to Trinidad and Tobago 2-1. On May 30, T&T bested Curacao 3-1 in Willemstad. On June 1, Aruba and Curacao tied 0-0. On June 2, T&T surprisingly lost to Aruba 1-0 and then the next day, T&T fell shockingly to Curacao 3-0. Aruba won the tournament title with seven points, T&T finished second on six points while host nation Curacao was third on four points.

Aruba women’s national team is the winner of the three team Curacao Tournament ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the host. Photo courtesy of Aruba Football Federation.

T&T’s team was primarily a developmental team—kind-of, sort-of—and the three teams played four games over seven days, with T&T and Aruba twice playing two matches in two days while Curacao’s schedule built in a day off between their matches (well, it was their tournament). I think the format was a creative idea to provide more games to the Dutch heritage island nations teams that typically only play during CONCACAF tournaments; last year Aruba played six CONCACAF W-Gold Cup Qualifiers while Curacao played four and the friendly tournament provided each nation’s first games in 2024, the same for Trinidad and Tobago, which also only played for four matches in regional qualifiers last year and no games this year ahead of the Curacao matches).

The losses to Curacao and Aruba were another embarrassment to the T&T Football Association, which has fallen so far since, less than ten years ago, they narrowly lost a 2015 Women’s World Cup play-in final at home against Ecuador to a last minute goal (1-0 on aggregate).

Essentially, current women’s national team head coach Richard Hood admitted that T&T took a developmental side—he was directed to take fourteen teenage youth players from the Republic Bank National Youth Football League U-20 Tournament: Mikaela Yearwood, Maya Figgener, Kaitlyn Darwent, Anastasia O’Brien, Kanika Rodriguez, Ariana Borneo, Hackeemar Goodridge, Rasheda Archer, Cherina Steele, Mariah Williams, Tayeann Wylie, Talia Martin, and Sonia Lamarre, while only fifteen-year-old attacking midfielder Orielle Martin had made her senior debut previously, last year in W Gold Cup Qualification.

However, once in Curacao, Hood apparently was surprised that Aruba and Curacao used a number of Netherlands-based players—both nations are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands—and he didn’t feel that a number of his young players were ready for the challenge.

Hood said: “Both teams (Aruba and Curaçao) were littered with players from the Netherlands. We had 13 kids; 15 and 16-year-olds. The intention was to play them all but when we saw the level of the opponents, that went out the window. (There is also) the fatigue factor with four games in six days. This tournament was brutal in that regard. This was against everything we know about human physiology as it pertains to performance and recovery.”

Aruba and Curacao were able to rotate players during the four matches, but Hood’s plan to do the same was handicapped since some of his players were not up to the experience level of their opponents.

Hood did see some positives to the trip: “Having an opportunity to play international games outweighs the negatives. I think that this was important for the development and rebuilding of the programme.”

I would argue that it did T&T more damage than good since there were seven players who had limited time in the tournament’s games, with four not playing at all and three playing less than 45 minutes each across the 360 minutes of game time.

In a discussion with a Caribbean coach who is very familiar with the state of football in Trinidad and Tobago, he said that it wasn’t an issue with head coach Richard Hood but the Football Association was to blame for not doing any planning and putting a team together at the last moment, as they typically do.

This reporter was originally stunned by the two losses but then saw that Trinidad and Tobago had taken a very young developmental team with a few veterans, which seemed to justify the results. However, I learned there was more to the story and we thank the dean of CONCACAF journalists—Lasana Liburd of in Trinidad—for his always in-depth analysis of T&T football.

Hood’s admittance that they did not realize that their two opponents had a number of diaspora brought in from Europe, playing mostly for sides in the Netherlands, is just basic team preparation. Maybe the T&TFA needs to review my weekly columns and our reviews of CONCACAF teams with national team rosters from around the region—then this would not be a surprise; someone should have reviewed Aruba and Curacao’s recent national team games—albeit rare that they are. I did a quick search and within two minutes found that Aruba’s 20 player squad for the tournament included three members playing in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.

For Curacao’s 22 player squad for the tournament, seven played in the Netherlands and one was in the German Frauen Bundesliga, with the rest playing at home: five with Excellence, four with Inter Willemstad, three with Fortuna and one each with Jong Colombia and Undeba. That was what I found in a few minutes—a few hours would have uncovered much more detailed information and videos for T&T’s technical staff to use for game planning purposes.

Lack of preparation by the federation is not an excuse and set up Hood and the team to fail and now their national teams’ program is at a new low in their slide since 2014. As a note, in the most recent rankings of women’s national teams by FIFA on March 15, 2024, Trinidad and Tobago was rated eighth in CONCACAF and 77th overall, compared with Curacao at 26th in CONCACAF and 179th globally, with Aruba 30th in CONCACAF and 185th overall by FIFA. In the next rankings this summer, T&T will probably tumble some while Curacao and Aruba should gain spots.

In their last match defeat against Curacao by a 3-0 scoreline, Hood reflected on his strategy for the match, particularly as winger Ke’die Johnson (see below) was out through suspension: “We knew that a draw would be good enough to win the tournament but we felt that it was important to try and balance the team in such a way so we can still provide offensive threats and at the same time remain defensively organised at the back…. The plan was not so much to press the ball high but to ensure their deep-lying midfielder and left side centre back didn’t have appropriate time on the ball to release their attackers. The plan was to starve them of the ball.”

Lasana Liburd wrote in a Wired story after the game: “Hood’s game plan lasted all of 26 seconds. In that time, the only two touches from Trinidad and Tobago players were disastrous. Midfielder Asha James lunged in at the Curaçao playmaker but, unfortunately, she deflected the latter’s attempted pass perfectly in the path of their right winger. And, facing her goal, Warriors captain Victoria Swift hit past her own goalkeeper (for an own goal) in an awkward attempt to clear.”

Hood added: “This was the worst possible start and it destroyed our game plan.”

Curacao’s other goals came from Jeleaugh Rosa (19)—who played this season in Germany with Duisburg, who were recently relegated from the top tier Frauen-Bundesliga—and Kadisha Martina (23), who plays at Inter Willemstad at home.

Curacao head coach Dean Gorre (53) is a native of Surinam who played in the Netherlands and in England, including time with Huddersfield Town, Blackpool and Barnsley; he is the interim head  coach of both the men’s and women’s national teams in Curacao.

In the 1-0 loss to Aruba, Hood had said before the game: “We will come up with an appropriate game plan and see how best it works… We need a draw tonight but we are going after a win.”

Aruba’s winner came four minutes before the first half break, by a tremendous free kick from a tight angle on the right wing by Aruba captain and defender Soraya Vierhoeve (26)—who plays at Ajax Amsterdam in the Netherlands, with ten games played in the 2023-24 regular season (she has won three league titles in nine seasons with Ajax)—four minutes from the interval.

Hood said: “(Vierhoeve) has a beautiful left foot and it was a good strike on goal. However, the goalkeeper (Mikaela Yearwood) did make an error in judging the flight of the ball by trying to attack the ball rather than backpedaling. Young goalkeepers will make errors but I won’t come down on her. I think she has been doing really well for us so far.”

Note: In addition to the young players mentioned above, Hood had the following players on the side for the tournament:

Trinidad and Tobago women’s footballer of the year Victoria Swift (29) is from Canada and has played collegiately at Navarro Community College in Texas, the University of West Florida, and KFF on the east coast of Iceland, in Mexico with Leon, Carmen Bucuresti of Romania and Electric City FC last summer in League 1 Ontario.

Forward/midfielder Asha James (24) played at Florida International University and West Texas A& M and this past season with Valadares Gaia of Portugal’s 1A Divisao Women, finishing tied for fifth with Sporting Braga on 36 points from 22 regular season games.

Defender Shauna Govia (25) played at the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. Defender Chrissy Mitchell (22), who plays at Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia. Midfielder Alexcia Ali (23), who also plays beach soccer internationally for T&T.

Midfielder Tori Paul (21) was born in the U.S. and has played at the University of Maryland and the University of Texas-El Paso. 

Ke’die Johnson (22) signed a two-year contact with Lille Olympique Sporting Club in France’s top league last season. The club’s website quoted her at the time as saying, “I am really excited to join France and LOSC. Coming from TT, the opportunities are limited. I feel really lucky and grateful to be part of this team and to be able to show what I am capable of. I hope the fans will support us in this season to finish as high as possible."

She played seven games in defense for Lille, who unfortunately were relegated at the end of 2023-24, finishing tied for eleventh with Bordeaux, who will also play next season in the Seconde Ligue. She previously played at Florida International University and for Chattanooga FC of the summer amateur WPSL.

Trinidad and Tobago international defender Ke’die Johnson signed a two year deal with Olympique Lille ahead of the 2023-24 season. Unfortunately, Lille were relegated at the end of the season and will play in the second division in 2024-25. Photo courtesy of Lille Olympique Sporting Club.


Japan takes two friendlies from New Zealand—both in Olympic Games Friendly Preparation

On May 31, Japan defeated New Zealand 2-0 at the Estadio Enrique Roca de Murcia in Murcia, Spain, with a goal on either side of the halftime break (45th minute +2 and then at the 47th minute mark) from Minami Tanaka (30)—who has been with INAC Kobe Leonessa in the WE-League after playing in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen—and Toko Koga (16) of Feyenoord in the Netherlands. For New Zealand, the loss marked the end of a seven match unbeaten run, winning February’s OFC Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Samoa in five matches and then the two-game April series against Thailand (4-0 and 0-0) in Christchurch. 

In the second match on June 3, also in Murcia, Missy Clegg (18) gave the Football Ferns the lead in the 22nd minute after dribbling past her defender on the left wing and hitting a shot high into the net on the near side of goal, which the goalkeeper had no chance with. New Zealand held the lead until the halftime break.

Clegg has not played yet for Racing Louisville in the NWSL in 2024 as she has been recovering from a long-term injury, but this goal will boost her confidence and should see her gain playing time this summer (unless she is on the Olympic Games Final team, which is very likely). Clegg played for the last six minutes in the first game and played the entire match in the July 3 game—her first action for New Zealand this year in her comeback. Four minutes into the second half, Maika Hamano (20) scored the first of her two goals, the second coming on the hour mark, to power Japan to their second win over New Zealand during their week in Spain.

Hamano moved to Hammarby in Sweden after a season with INAC Kobe and had seven goals in 17 matches in the Damallsvenskan. She then transferred to Chelsea of the WSL in the recent winter transfer window and scored two goals in six matches, including the winner in a crucial late season win over Tottenham Hotspur (1-0) as the Blues captured their fifth league title in a row.

Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimkova did not travel to Spain with the team as she took a leave of absence because she is part of an ongoing investigation into an employment-related matter. Assistant coach Michael Mayne—a native of New Zealand and who played and coached locally—stepped in as the interim head coach.

There is speculation in New Zealand that Klimkova, a former international for the Czech Republic, will not return but, at the present time, no one is providing any details as to what the concerns were that drove the investigation. Of Klimkova’s 39 games in charge to date, the side has a 11-7-21 (W-D-L) record, with no win more important than their 1-0 defeat of Norway to open the 2023 WWC in Auckland last summer.

It was surprising that Klimkova was signed to a six year contact in 2021 that takes her into 2027. She trails only former women’s head coaches in the number of games she has coached, with Tony Readings (82 games) the leader and John Herdman (the ex-Canadian WNT and MNT head coach who is now with Toronto FC in MLS) second with 68 games. If Jitka does not return to the team, the well-known Mayne from grassroots football should be allowed to take the team to Paris for the Olympics and—with positive results—extend his contract into a permanent arrangement.


The full 24-player squad for New Zealand’s trip to Spain included:

Mackenzie Barry (15 caps) Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand

CJ Bott (44 caps) Leicester City, England

Katie Bowen (107 caps) Inter Milan, Italy

Claudia Bunge (30 caps) HB Køge, Denmark

Daisy Cleverley (37 caps) HB Køge, Denmark

Milly Clegg (6 caps) Racing Louisville FC, USA

Victoria Esson (23 caps) Rangers FC, Scotland

Michaela Foster (16 caps) Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand

Macey Fraser (5 caps) Utah Royals, USA

Ally Green (12 caps) AGF, Denmark

Jacqui Hand (25 caps) Lewes FC, England

Grace Jale (29 caps) Unattached

Katie Kitching (8 caps) Sunderland AFC, England

Anna Leat (16 caps) Aston Villa FC, England

Meikayla Moore (64 caps) Glasgow City FC, Scotland

Grace Neville (8 caps) London City Lionesses, England

Gabi Rennie (35 caps) Åland United, Finland

Ali Riley (161 caps) Angel City FC, USA

Indiah-Paige Riley (23 caps) PSV Vrouwen, Netherlands

Murphy Sheaff (0 caps) Kansas State University, USA

Malia Steinmetz (29 caps) FC Nordsjælland, Denmark

Rebekah Stott (101 caps) Melbourne City FC, Australia

Kate Taylor (15 caps) Unattached

Hannah Wilkinson (124 caps) Melbourne City FC, Australia


Clegg was one of four American-based players in the team and three in the NWSL, along with Angel City veteran Ali Riley and Utah Royals recent recruit Macey Fraser, and with uncapped Australian-born and New Zealand youth international goalkeeper Murphy Sheaff, who transferred colleges to Kansas State University after two seasons with Jacksonville State in Florida (Sheaff did not play in either Japan game and is still waiting for her first cap).

Five of the squad plays in England, including Grace Neville, who was recalled to the squad, while four play in Denmark, two each in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, with one each in the Netherlands and Finland—the latter being forward Gabi Rennie, who joined Aland United after finishing her collegiate career, first at Indiana University and then her final two years at Arizona State University.

There were two unattached players, including Grace Jale, who played last season at Perth Glory in the A-League Women last season. Ria Percival is also out of contract at Tottenham Hotspur but she retired from the national team in April, after earning 166 caps and 15 goals and playing in five Women’s World Cups.

In the Olympic Games Finals this summer New Zealand faces Canada, France and Colombia in a very challenging group

Nadeshiko head coach Futoshi Ikeda named 22 players for the New Zealand matches. Japan, along with Australia, are the two AFC qualifiers for this summer’s Olympic Games Finals in France. Of the 13 playing abroad, seven are playing in England, two in Italy, and one each in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. (in college). Nine are home based; including four with INAC Kobe Leonessa and three with Urawa Reds.



 1   YAMASHITA, Ayaka (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

18  HIRAO, Chika (Albirex Niigata Ladies)

21  OHBA, Shu (University of Mississippi/USA)

Field Players

 4   KUMAGAI, Saki (AS Roma/Italy)

11  TANAKA, Mina (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

 2   SHIMIZU, Risa (West Ham United/England)

 8   SEIKE, Kiko (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)

 6  MORIYA, Miyabi (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

14  HASEGAWA, Yui (Manchester City/England)

13  KITAGAWA, Hikaru (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

16  HAYASHI, Honoka (West Ham United/England)

 3   MINAMI, Moeka (AS Roma/Italy)

10  NAGANO, Fuka (Liverpool FC/England)

17  CHIBA, Remina (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)

 9   UEKI, Riko (West Ham United/England)

 7   MIYAZAWA, Hinata (Manchester United/England)

 5   TAKAHASHI, Hana (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)

12  ISHIKAWA, Rion (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)

15  FUJINO, Aoba (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza)

22  HAMANO, Maika (Chelsea/England)

19  TANIKAWA, Momoko (FC Rosengard/Sweden)

20  KOGA, Toko (Feyenoord /Netherlands)




On May 30, visiting Belarus defeated Iran’s WNT 3-0 in Tehran, with one goal from Anastasia Linnik (30), who started the 2023-24 season at home with Dinamo BGU but transferred in January to Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, where she scored 3 goals in 3 matches.  Melana Surovtseva (21) of Minsk scored a second half double. On June 2, Iran fell again to Belarus 0-1 in Tehran with Anna Pilipenko (35) scoring the winner in the 47th minute; she has played with Dinamo Minsk since 2020 and has also played in Russia and Lithuania.

These matches were added after Lithuania refused to play Belarus in their two 2025 UEFA Women’s EURO Qualifiers to protest Belarus’ involvement with Russia in the invasion of Ukraine. Belarus was awarded two 3-0 forfeit wins and lead their League C Group A with 12 points, five points ahead of Georgia (7 points), with Lithuania (4 points) and Cyprus (0 points) out of the running for the playoffs to make the Finals in Switzerland next year.

On May 30, Morocco hosted DR Congo 2-1 in Berkane. On June 3, Morocco did the double 3-2 over Congo DR, again in Berkane. Ibtissam Jraidi (31) scored four of Morocco’s five goals, including a hat-trick in the second game. Jraidi plays with Al Ahli in Saudi Arabia and has over 60 caps with the national team; she scored Morocco’s first ever goal in the Women’s World Cup Finals last year.

She led the Saudi Premier League in scoring in 2023-24 with 17 goals, after finishing second in 2022-23, again with 17 goals (see: The Week in Women's Football: Imports talk up Saudi Pro League; Canada hopes for Project 8 - Tribal Football).

Kenza Chapelle (21) scored the other goal for Morocco—she was born in France and played for Strasbourg in the French second tier last season, scoring 12 goals in 21 matches. Strasbourg was promoted to the top league at the end of the season along with Nantes, having won the league title with a 16-5-1 (W-D-L) record for 51 points—seven points ahead of Nantes with 44, who won the second promotion spot over Olympique Marseille, also with 44 points. Other than an own goal, DR Congo’s scorer in the second game was Naomie Kabakaba (26), who scored 10 goals in 11 game last season at Galatasaray in Turkey before moving to Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia during the winter break.

On May 31 and June 4, Uzbekistan hosted India in two friendlies, winning the first match 3-0 and tying the second, both in Tashkent. The first match saw Uzbekistan win for the first time since defeating India by the same score (3-0) last November in Olympic Games Finals qualifiers.

This year, the Uzbeks lost two friendlies to Morocco in Sale in February (1-0 and 2-0) before being trounced in the final round home and away Olympics AFC qualifiers against Australia (13-0 on aggregate). In their victory at the end of May, all three goals were scored by phenom forward Diyorakhon Khabibullaeva (24) of Sogidiana, who has a quarter century of caps and scores above a goal a game. Uzbekistan primarily uses a home based side, but had midfielder Kamila Zaripova (25) play for Trabzonspor of Turkey in 2021-22. 

India’s side was entirely home based, but has on occasion called in a player each from Australia, Cyprus and the States, while Jyoti Chouhan (24) plays with Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. She just completed her second season in the Croatian top tier and in her first season became the first Indian footballer to score a hat-trick in a top flight European league after a three goal burst against ZNK Agram, scoring 10 times in 18 matches in total that season.

She also became the first Indian women’s player to score in an European Cup final at the end of the 2022-23 season, though Dinamo lost the match 3-2 to ZNK Split. She originally went to Europe with midfielder Soumya Guguloth (23) for the 2022-23 season (who has since returned to Gokulam Kerala after playing in only a few games that season) after both won the Indian Women’s League title with Gokulam Kerala in May 2022, in the second year of the competition. Jyoti Chouhan hopes to one day play in Brazil.



- Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football.  His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women’s football.  Get your copy today. Follow Tim on X: @TimGrainey