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The Week in Women's Football: Exclusive with Peamount Utd manager O'Callaghan; USWNT vs Netherlands; African news

This week Tribal.Football.com talked exclusively to James O'Callaghan, the head coach of Peamount United of Ireland, whose side gave Glasgow City a tremendous battle in the 2020-21 Women's Champions League first qualifying round; Peamount traveled to Scotland and fell after a scoreless 120 minutes on penalty kicks (6-5). We also look at the result and rosters from the high profile friendly between the Netherlands and the United States in Breda and look at news from Africa for the regional COSAFA full and U-17 national team tournaments earlier this month.


James O'Callaghan leads Peamount United to a tremendous few weeks in the Republic of Ireland in the Women's Champions League and Women's National League

James O'Callaghan is the head coach of Peamount United, the 2019 Women's National League Champions from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. He explained exclusively to TribalFootball.com that, in preparing for the Glasgow City European Women's Champions League match earlier this month that, "We reviewed ample video on the opponents and found that they were very good with the ball on the ground." Rather than doing a bunker approach which some teams would employ against the perennial Scottish League Champions, they felt their best approach in their November 4 Women's Champions League first Qualifying Round match was, "to stay compact across the park and, when they won the ball back, to be aggressive with it." He stressed that Glasgow City is a professional side and that the Republic's Women's National League (WNL) is fully amateur, "Though we lost on penalties (6-5 after a 0-0 tie in 120 minutes), there was satisfaction that we gave a good account of ourselves against a number 1 seed." Peamount United players and staff additionally had to take COVID-19 tests before and after the match that was played in Scotland, adding to the staff's concerns above and beyond the match itself.

The WCL game was part of a massive few weeks for Peamount as on November 21, they had a key league tiff at home against table toppers Shelbourne, who had 28 points from a 9-1-1 (W-D-L) record from 11 games. Peamount was a point behind with 27 points but with a game in hand. The scenario was simple—if Shelbourne won they would be crowned champions. A Peamount United win and they would win outright, while a tie would still leave them a point behind with an away match against third place Wexford Youths (7-0-3—21 points from 10 games) still to come. Peamount fell to Shelbourne this June 2-1 in the League Cup semifinal, and then the Shels won the League Cup 1-0 over Wexford Youths.

On November 21, Peamount United clinched the WNL title for the second straight year with a 3-1 victory of Shelbourne in the crucial top of table clash. Republic of Ireland international Aine O'Gorman scored twice and now has 14 goals on the season from 11 games, while fellow international Karen Duggan (29) scored once as Peamount came back from a 1-0 deficit early in the second half when Emily Whelan (18 and a youth and senior international for Ireland) scored for Shels.


Peamount United celebrates their 2020 Women's National League Title after their 3-1 comeback victory over Shelbourne on November 21, 2020. (Photo Courtesy James O'Callaghan/Peamount United/Football Association of Ireland).


Peamount United still has more hardware that it is vying for this season as they are in the FAI Cup Final on December 12th against Cork City (fourth in the league on 15 points from a 5-0-5 record). The 9 team league is ending later this year and, because of COVID-19, played only one round this season rather than the usual two. The top 5 in the regular season advance to the Championship Round with the bottom 4 playing off in the Lower Table Round. Currently, there is no promotion or relegation in the league.

O'Callaghan, who played at home with Monaghan United and also coaches women's soccer at Maymooth University, said that soccer is growing in Ireland and is particularly strong in urban areas, while Gaelic Football and Camogie (hurling) are still strong in rural areas, "Soccer draws more from the working class and has more travel involved while Gaelic sports' base are more hometown teams within the rural communities." As with soccer, Gaelic Football is an amateur sport at the top level in Ireland, though there are increasing opportunities for women to play professionally in the Aussie Rules League (WAFL) in Australia. O'Callaghan felt that, "Women's sports in the country still needs more promotion and funding."


Peamount United head coach James O'Callaghan is happy as his side has defended their 2019 Women's National League title in the Republic of Ireland in the 2020 campaign. (Photo courtesy James O'Callaghan/Peamount United).


Unfortunately, it looks like the Republic of Ireland will not make it out of their Group in the European Championship Qualifiers after their disappointing 1-0 loss in Ukraine on October 23 (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-euros-qualifying-update-we-league-line-up-announced-w-league-sets-2020-21-schedule-4346295) but O'Callaghan hopes that the country's first ever qualification for a UEFA or FIFA tournament is coming in the near future as, "This will help the National League's development and help us to make the league semi-professional. We have talent coming through the system, but as an amateur league, some teams have to raise money through sponsorship and players move abroad to higher leagues." A semiprofessional league would also attract more talent from abroad, as now WNL imports are primarily Americans who are attending college or have moved to the country after playing at home.

James O'Callaghan and his squad should be congratulated on their fine 2020 season and in the 2020-21 Women's Champions League Qualification Round, will have a chance to build on the momentum from their fine performance this season against Glasgow City.

Note: Next week, as part of our review of the last EUROS qualifiers, TribalFootball.com talks exclusively with Republic of Ireland head coach Vera Pauw, about her thoughts on Ireland's last qualifier versus Germany, the campaign in general and thoughts on the future growth of the game in the Emerald Isle.


U.S. Women's National Team Travels to Europe for a High Profile international versus the Netherlands.

In a rematch of the 2019 Women's World Cup Final which the U.S. won 2-0 in Lyon, France, the U.S. Women's National Team met the Netherlands in a friendly on November 27 in Breda. The Americans again won 2-0 in the friendly (held without fans), with the winner from Rose Lavelle in the 41st minute (she also scored in the World Cup Final last year) from a Christen Press assist. In the 70th minute, Kristie Mewis scored in her first national team appearance since 2014 after a tremendous season with the Houston Dash, helping the team win the 2020 Challenge Cup this summer in trying circumstances during a bubble situation in Utah because of COVID-19. Lynn Williams assisted Mewis on the goal. The U.S. women were dominant in attack, leading in shots (14-2) and shots-on-goal (6-0). The U.S. is now 8-0-1 (W-D-L) all-time against the Dutch senior side. Both teams are through to the Olympic Finals next summer in Tokyo and could face off again there.

U.S. Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski took 23 players to Europe and the team had 6 days of training in the country before the match. It was their first game together in 261 days since the She Believes Cup in March. Fifteen players were currently with NWSL teams, seven have been playing in Europe and one is still at University (Catarina Macario of Stanford University, who can practice but cannot play in the match as the Brazilian-born player has not yet received FIFA authorization to play, which is expected within the next few months). Fifteen of the squad members were in the U.S.' training camp last month in Colorado.


USWNT – Netherlands Training Camp Roster (Club; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit; 0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 63)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 1/0), Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 61/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 26/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 104/24), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals FC; 131/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 177/0), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride; 45/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 102/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 86/19), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 45/12), Catarina Macario (Stanford; 0/0), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 15/1), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 67/18)
FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Tobin Heath (Manchester United, ENG; 168/33), Alex Morgan (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG; 169/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 138/58), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 28/9)

Defender Becky Sauerbrunn was the most experienced player on the training camp roster with 177 caps. Others with over 100 caps include forwards Alex Morgan (169), Tobin Heath (168) and Christen Press (138), midfielder Julie Ertz (102) and defenders Kelley O'Hara (131) and Crystal Dunn (104).

Midfielder Lindsey Horan is the USA's leading scorer so far this year with seven goals and three assists. Press has seven goals and two assists (notching her third against the Netherlands on November 27). Press won the Golden Ball as the top player at January's 2020 CONCACAF Olympic Women's Qualifying Championship. Forward Lynn Williams is tied for the team lead in assists in 2020 (with Megan Rapinoe) with five, before she added her sixth in the Netherlands match.

Midfielder Jaelin Howell (20) was a late substitute for Lindsey Horan, who missed the match due to COVID-19 protocols. Howell helped the Florida State University Seminoles win the 2020 ACC championship this month with a 3-2 win over the University of North Carolina Tarheels. She was named the ACC's Midfielder of the Year and was named to the All-ACC First Team for the second straight season, finishing the season with four goals, two in the ACC Tournament. Howell, Sophia Smith (20) and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe (29) had not yet been capped before the match, while Alana Cook (ex-Stanford University) has one cap and is playing with Paris St. Germain in France. Smith (in the 75th minute) and Howell (in the 89th minute) did play against the Netherlands and earned their first national team appearances.

Missing from the squad which defeated the Netherlands in the Women's World Cup in 2019 were Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh (both Sky Blue FC), who are recovering from injuries and did not play in any NWSL matches this summer. Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign) also missed the NWSL season and is not yet match fit.

In three EUROS matches since COVID-19 severely altered the qualifying schedule and the Finals itself from the summer of 2021 to the summer of 2022 (still in England), the Netherlands have been perfect, defeating Russia 1-0 away in September and Estonia 7-0 at home and Kosovo on the road 6-0 in October. Already qualified as champions of Group A for the 2021 European Championships, they play Kosovo in Breda on December 1 in an attempt to finish their qualification campaign with 10 wins out of 10 games.

The roster for the Netherlands against the Americans was:


Netherlands Women's National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lize Kop (Ajax), Sari van Veenendaal (PSV), Daphne van Domselaar (FC Twente)
DEFENDERS (8): Stefanie van der Gragt (Ajax), Dominique Janssen (Wolfsburg, GER), Kika van Es (Twente), Merel van Dongen (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Danique Kerkdijk (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Aniek Nouwen (PSV), Lynn Wilms (Twente)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sherida Spitse (Vålerenga, NOR), Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal, ENG), Jackie Groenen (Manchester United, ENG), Inessa Kaagman (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Victoria Pelova (Ajax)
FORWARDS (8): Lieke Martens (Barcelona, ESP), Shanice van de Sanden (Wolfsburg, GER), Lineth Beerensteyn (Bayern Munich, GER), Renate Jansen (Twente), Sisca Folkertsma (Twente), Katja Snoeijs (Bordeaux, FRA), Jill Roord (Arsenal, ENG), Joëlle Smits (PSV)

Forward Vivianne Miedema, who leads the WSL in England with 10 goals this season from 7 games for second place Arsenal and is the all-time leading scorer in the WSL with 52 goals, missed the squad with a hip injury. Twelve of their current roster have 40 or more caps with three over the Century mark—Sherida Spitse (180), Lieke Martens (116) and Danielle van de Donk (107). Twelve of the current roster of 23 players are with clubs abroad, with 5 in England in the FA WSL, 3 in Germany 2 in Spain, 1 in France and 1 in Norway.



News from Africa—South Africa wins 2020 COSAFA Senior Title while Tanzania wins the U-17 Crown

Earlier this month, South Africa defeated surprising Botswana Mares' 2-1 in Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay) in the 2020 COSAFA final, the Southern African regional national teams' tournament, on November 14. Gabriela Salgado set up Sibulele Holweni to open the scoring for South Africa with Holweni scoring her eighth goal of the tournament after just two minutes. Salgado then got on the scoresheet herself in the 66th minute to double her side's lead. Botswana fought back when Thanda Mokgabo (who plays in Zambia with Yasa) fired past goalkeeper Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa) five minutes from time but Botswana couldn't find the equalizer at the end. Holweni (19) plays at home with Sophakama/HPC and Salgado plays for JVW FC in Bedfordview, Gauteng.

The win gave South Africa their fourth COSAFA regional title in a row (all under coach and former South African international player Desiree Ellis) and record seventh COSAFA title all-time. South Africa advanced to the final by defeating Malawi 6-2, as the Scorchers lost goalkeeper Samir Amidu (DD Sunshine of Malawi) early in the match through a red card. Malawi kept the game scoreless until the halftime break but 6 goals in the second half from Banyana Banyana overwhelmed the visitors. Malawi's two goals came from the Chawinga sisters who are currently playing in China: Tabitha (Jiangsu Suning) and Temwa (Wuhan Jiangda), with Tabitha finishing second in tournament goalscoring with 7. Tabitha, at only 23, is sponsoring the DD Sunshine top tier women's team at home as well as their women's developmental side and their U-20 men's team, including housing and school fees, food and playing field rental. She explained her generosity when she told the local media, "It is hard considering that I also have to provide for my family back home, but I am determined to do this because DD Sunshine means everything to me. I know it's not easy to find sponsors, especially for women's football, but I am currently courting potential sponsors (including in China) to see if they can get on board. I am sponsoring the teams not because I am rich, but it is out of the passion for the game. I would like to see women's football develop in Malawi. There is a lot of promising young talent there at home that has the potential to make it big given the necessary support. It can open up opportunities for a lot of young girls." Tabitha Chawinga is truly a role model at home and for the growth of the game globally. She is still remembered fondly from her time playing in Sweden, moving from the third division through the second tier Elitettan and top league Damallsvenskan from 2014-2017 as a prolific goalscorer before her move to China in 2018.

In the other semifinal, Botswana defeated highly favored Zambia 2-1. Nineteen-year-old Lone Gaofetoge (Geronah in Botswana) scored in the 8th minute from a long range blast and then they doubled the lead from the penalty-spot by Refilwe Tholekele (Township Rollers) to knock out the Copper Queens. Botswana thus qualified for their first COSAFA Final while Zambia won the one guaranteed CAF spot earlier this year to the Olympic Games. Botswana had fallen to Zambia 3-0 in the Olympic Qualifying Third Round 3-0 on aggregate after defeating South Africa on penalty kicks (3-2) after a 0-0 aggregate draw over two legs in the second round. Botswana lost to Zambia 4-0 in the COSAFA semifinals last year, and then to Zimbabwe in the third place match.

South Africa forward Hildah Magaia (25 and a graduate student at Tshwane University of Technology) was named Player of the Tournament following her impressive displays, including a hat trick in the semifinal win, while Holweni (19 and a student at Western Cape University) won the Golden Boot. Botswana goalkeeper Maitumelo Bosija claimed the Golden Glove and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) bagged the team Fair Play award.



STANDINGS

2020 COSAFA Senior Women's Championship

GROUP A

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

South Africa (Q)

3

3

0

0

14

0

17

9

Angola

3

1

1

1

5

6

-1

4

Eswatini

3

1

0

2

7

11

-4

3

Comoros Islands

3

0

1

2

3

12

-9

1

*In order to calculate the best-placed runner-up, the matches involving last-placed Comoros Islands were discarded. So the standings are therefore: South Africa – 6 pts, +7; Angola – 3 pts, -1; Eswatini – 0 pts, -6

GROUP B

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Malawi (Q)

2

2

0

0

10

0

10

6

Zambia (Q)

2

1

0

2

8

1

7

3

Lesotho

2

0

0

2

0

17

-17

0

GROUP C

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Botswana (Q)

2

2

0

0

2

0

2

6

Tanzania

2

1

0

1

1

1

0

3

Zimbabwe

2

0

0

2

0

2

-2

0

In the COSFA Women's U-17 tournament held concurrently with the seniors, Tanzania won the regional U-17 title over Zambia in a penalty shootout (4-3) after a 1-1 draw. Tanzania, a guest nation for COSAFA competitions as they compete in the East African region, also hold the COSAFA Women's Under-20 Championship title from 2019, a competition that could not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zambia looked as though it would win after Comfort Selemani's goal after 18 minutes. However, in the 93rd minute, Tanzania was awarded a penalty and Aisha Masaka converted the kick to send the game into a post-match shoot-out. Tanzania triumphed 4-3 to become the second East African guests to lift the Under-17 COSAFA title, after Uganda won the inaugural competition in Mauritius last year.

Zambia's Tisilile Lungu won the Player of the Tournament prize, while the Golden Glove went to her teammate, goalkeeper Chitete Munsaka, as the side conceded just five goals in the competition, the fewest of all the teams. Masaka of Tanzania lifted the Golden Boot trophy with her 10 goals, while Zambia claimed the Fair Play Award.

Finally, Lungu and South Africa's Jessica Wade—who both tied for second in the tournament goalscoring table with 5— have been selected for an once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Spain in 2021, courtesy of LaLiga, after being selected by the Technical Study Group. The duo will get the opportunity to train with local clubs, experience a LaLiga game and immerse themselves in the local culture, as part of a new partnership signed between COSAFA and the prestigious Spanish league. Two players from the Men's Championship, also staged in Nelson Mandela Bay, will be afforded the same privilege.

Both tournaments were held without fans, but the finals were available on television and through streaming.



STANDINGS

2020 COSAFA U-17 Women's Championships

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Zambia (Q)

4

4

0

0

12

4

8

12

Tanzania (Q)

4

3

0

1

22

5

17

9

South Africa

4

2

0

2

18

8

10

6

Zimbabwe

4

1

0

3

6

24

-18

3

Comoros

4

0

0

4

3

20

-17

0



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 Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
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Tim Grainey

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