As featured on NewsNow: Football news

The Week in Women's Football: Real Madrid land Linda Caicedo; Aminata Diallo joins Levante; Matildas WC sellout

This week, we look at some interesting winter transfer moves in Europe. We also have news from Australia with the Women's World Cup opener in Australia being moved to a 80,000 seat stadium—double the original choice, which sold out quickly.

The Matildas' opponent for that opener is Ireland and we look at the Irish roster and result from a recent friendly with current AFC champions China. We also look at the results from some February friendly international tournaments in Australia, England and Spain, involving a number of teams which have qualified for this summer's Women's World Cup Finals in Australia/New Zealand.

Winter Transfer Season Moves

During the 2022-23 winter transfer season in Europe, we look at some interesting recent player moves at the club level.

One of the highest profile and most intriguing off-season winter moves was by 18-year-old Colombian international forward Linda Caicedo, who was a revelation last season at the Copa America Femenina, where she won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, and at the U-17 WWC, where Colombia made the Final and she won the Silver Ball and the Bronze Boot (tied with the two other award winners with four goals); she has moved from Deportivo de Cali at home to Real Madrid in Spain. She won two league titles in Colombia; the first with América de Cali, when he scored in the final despite being only 14-years-old. Since 2020 she has played for Deportivo de Cali, where she won the league title in 2021. She is expected to be a key player for Colombia this summer at the WWC and is definitely a good signing for Real Madrid for the years to come.

Another move that received a lot of attention was that of French international midfielder Aminata Diallo (27), who was at PSG in France for years but in November 2021 became a prime suspect of a police investigation into an attack on her PSG and France WNT teammate Kheira Hamraoui (see our coverage at the time in: The Week in Women's Football: Mamelodi Sundowns claim history trophy; PSG success and scandal - Tribal Football).

Diallo had retired from the game after her contract was not renewed after the 2021-22 season by PSG but she has returned to the game with Levante in Spain and was permitted to leave the country by prosecutors, even though her court case is still on-going in France and could continue into 2024. One of her lawyers, Romain Ruiz, said that she had offers from teams in England, France, Spain and Italy, without naming names. Levante had initially reached out to her last summer and they are currently a very competitive third in Liga F, ten points adrift of leaders Barcelona, and the fact that she had worked with their head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Vera during her loan spell at Atletico Madrid in 2021, were contributing factors in her decision. She has signed for six months with Levante with an option to renew it for a further year. To date, she has played as a substitute in three matches for her new club.

Northern Ireland midfielder Rachel Furness (34), who has over 80 caps for her country, left Liverpool this winter and has joined Bristol City. She has also played at Reading, Sunderland, Newcastle United as well as Grindavik in Ireland in 2010.

Spanish international midfielder Vicky Losada (31) has moved from Manchester City to high-flying AS Roma of Italy, which is leading Serie A in Italy and is in the last 8 of the UEFA Women's Champions League. She has previously played at Barcelona and Espanyol in Spain, Arsenal in the WSL and in 2014 for the Western New York Flash in the NWSL. She has over 60 caps for her national team and also appeared with Catalonia's unofficial national team.

Former English international forward Natasha Dowie (37), who spent five years in Australia with Melbourne Victory where she is still idolized, has moved from Reading to Liverpool, where she once played for current coach Matt Beard and won league titles in 2013 and 2014. She has also played in the NWSL with Boston Breakers—again with Pool coach Matt Beard— and in Italy, Norway and Sweden.

Lina Yang is a midfielder who has played for China internationally and was on the side that won the Asian title last year in India which qualified her nation for the 2023 WWC. She played only two games last season with PSG in France after years at Shanghai Shengli and moved to Levante Las Planas in Spain, where she already has played in 5 matches this season.

Maika Hamano (18) is a Japanese international forward who moved from INAC Kobe Leonessa after one season (with 1 goal in 4 games) to Chelsea of the WSL, who sent her to Hammarby in Sweden on loan for at least the rest of the 2022-23 season.

Swedish youth international forward Alva Selerud (23) moved from Linkoping in Sweden to Roma in Italy's Serie A. In addition to her U-19 national team appearances, she has been to one full national team camp. She has played two games as a substitute with Roma since her move.

English defender Grace Garrad (19) has moved from West Ham United to Stabæk of Norway. She had four appearances in the WSL in 2021 but has been on loan to third tier Watford this season from the Hammers.

Forward Stefanie Sanders (24) is a German youth international who moved from Rosengard in Sweden to Werder Bremen in Germany; she won two Damallsvenskan titles at Rosengard in her two seasons there (2021 and 2022) where she had 11 goals in 38 games. She previously played at Werder Bremen from 2015-17, before moving to Freiburg in the Black Forest region of Germany for three seasons and then onto Sweden.

German youth international Chiara Hahn has left the University of South Florida to join Werder Bremen in Germany. She played for Frankfurt before moving to the U.S.

Iceland midfielder Margrét Arnadottir (23) has moved from Iceland's Thór/KA Akureyri to Parma of Italy. She played at the University of Pittsburgh in the past in Randy Waldrum's first season as head coach, who doubles as the Nigerian Women's National Team head coach. Her contract runs through 2024. She told the Thor /KA website: "I've wanted to go professional for a long time and I've always wanted to try moving to continental Europe…. I just decided to start looking at what options I had."

Parma are currently in eighth place in the Italian Premier League with 13 points after 18 games and now goes into the five team Relegation Stage. Parma was undefeated in three consecutive matches (two wins and one tie) towards the end of the regular season, which helped them leap out of last place. Arnadottir has played in four matches in Italy thus far.

Margrét Árnadóttir in <a href='/clubs/parma'>Parma</a>'s jersey

Iceland's Margrét Árnadóttir in Parma's jersey after she signed with the Italian Serie A club in 2023.

Courtesy of Thor/KA Website.

Serbian international midfielder Dejana Stefanović moved from Valerenga in Norway to Brighton and Hove Albion of the WSL on a 1.5-year contract. She played at Valerenga for four seasons and was on the 2020 title winning side; she totaled 22 goals in 70 Toppserien games, including two seasons in Alvadsnes. Prior to Valerenga, she played one season in France with ASPTT Alba in France in 2017-18.

Norwegian international midfielder Therese Åsland was on the 2019 WWC squad and moved from Brann to Madrid CFF. She scored 6 goals in 22 regular season matches last season for Toppserien champions Brann. She also won a league title with Lillestrom in 2019.

Young Dutch forward Chante Dompig (21) left Empoli last summer and signed with AC Milan this winter as a free agent. She played the last two seasons at Empoli and earned the title of Best Young Player of the Women's Serie A for the 2021-2022 football season.

Chante Dompig of the Netherlands has signed with AC Milan to close the 2022-23 season.

Photo courtesy A.C. Milan.

Swedish international forward Pauline Hammarlund (28) is making her first move abroad from Hacken in Gothenburg in Sweden to Fiorentina in Italy. She has one goal in five games in Italy as Fiorentina is tied for fourth with AC Milan entering the 5-team championship stage. She won league titles in 2012 with Linkopings and 2020 with Goteborg (now FK Hacken) and has also played with Pitea and Tyreso in Sweden; she has had five seasons of double-digit scoring in Sweden, topped by her 15 goals with Pitea in 2015.

Eva van Deursen (23) played the last four and one-half years with the Arizona State University Sun Devils and has joined Bayer Leverkusen in Germany as a free agent. Previously, she played at the youth level for PSV Eindhoven. Van Deursen said: "I'm very happy about the move to Bayer 04. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to play in one of the best women's leagues." She has played for the Netherlands at the 2018 U-20 Women's World Cup in France and for the U-23 national team. This is a big move for her and success in the Frauen-Bundesliga should see her called into the full national team pool after this summer's Women's World Cup.

Argentinian international Rocio Bueno (30) played at home in Argentina before a short spell at Sassuolo of Italy. She has returned home to join Racing Club in Buenos Aires, one of her three former clubs in Argentina, along with Boca Juniors and UAI Urquiza, she has won two league titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the latter. She was the first Argentinian player to ever be transferred abroad for a fee when she went to Sassuolo last summer on loan—Argentinian players had previously moved abroad but as amateurs.

Also leaving Sassuolo for Cesena is Belarusian international forward Karyna Alkhovik (22). She won two league titles at home in Belarus in 2020 and 2021 with Dynamo Minsk and only played one game in her first season at Sassulo but dropped down a division to Cesena on loan, who are currently seventh on 33 points in Serie B, with Lazio of Rome leading the league with 47 points and the front-runner for the automatic promotion spot to Serie A.

Swedish forward Therese Simonsson (24) has one goal in five games thus far with her new club Sporting Huelva in Spain, after playing at home for seven seasons for Linkoping, Umea, AIK, Uppsala, Alta and Vaslund—with her first four seasons in the Elitettan or second division—and she had 8 goals each in 2020 with Umea and this past season at Linkoping.

Brazilian international defender Thais Ferreira (26) has moved from Palmerias in Brazil to Granadilla Tenerife of Spain. Thaís has played for Valinhos FC, Guarani FC, AA Ponte Preta, Grêmio Osasco Audax EC and Palmeiras in Brazil. Thais debuted for Brazil in September of 2021 as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Argentina.

Nigerian forward Charity Adule (29) moved to Alhama in Spain last December; she has played for Deportivo de La Coruña and Eibar in Spain and originally came to Europe to play with BIIK Kazygurt in Kazakhstan from 2014-18, where she won five league titles and five cups. Adule previously played at River Angels and Bayelsa Queens at home in Nigeria. She played for Nigeria at the 2010 and 2012 U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany and Japan, respectively. While playing for BIIK, she was approached to play for Kazakhstan internationally but turned down the invitation.

Also joining Alhama in Spain's top flight Liga F is Panamanian international midfielder Aldrith Quintero (21), who has moved from Tuaro at home. She has played previously in Spain for two years with Union Tenerife of the Spanish second division.

French international defender Estelle Cascarino (26), the twin sister of fellow French national teamer Delphine Cascarino (who has over 50 caps for France and plays at Lyon) has moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester United. Estelle was first capped in 2017 and is nearing 10 full national team caps.

English defender Anouk Denton has left the University of Louisville Cardinals to join West Ham United, where she spent a loan spell in the 2020/21 season. She joined a 2.5-year contract; she made her WSL debut for Arsenal as a substitute in 2020-21 season and just played the one game with the senior side. D

Colette Ndzana (22) is a Cameroonian international midfielder who has moved from Dinamo Minsk in Belarus to Granadilla Tenerife of Spain on a one season deal. She was at Dinamo for two seasons and won two league titles, scoring 4 times in 22 games in 2022. She won a silver medal at the 2019 African Games with Cameroon's U-20 side and played for Cameroon's national futsal side at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

2023 FIFA Women's World Cup News

Australia versus Republic of Ireland Opener in Australia is moved to a stadium seating over 80,000

The opening game of the 2023 WWC in Australia, which involves Australia and Ireland, has been shifted to 83,500 seat Accor Stadium in Sydney's Olympic Park from Allianz Stadium (with 40,000 capacity) in Moore Park—both stadiums are in Sydney. The move of the July 20 opener should ensure a near-record crowd for this WWC match, behind the 90,185 at the Women's World Cup Final in 1999 in Los Angeles. With support at home growing for the Matildas, it is also the debut match at the Irish's first ever women's finals and should draw many attendees from their significant diaspora in Australia, along with visiting fans (the Irish men's teams have always drawn well at World Cups and EURO Final tournaments.

Allianz Stadium was sold out very quickly for this match and, even though the number of new seats available should be the same number, a sellout is expected. The largest Matilda home crowd is 36,109, set when the United States visited for a pair of friendlies in late 2021. A spokesperson for Football Australia said the federation endorsed any push to move the match to a bigger stadium to cater for the "unprecedented demand" which they say will propel the Matildas past the Wallabies [senior men's national Rugby Union team] and Kangaroos [senior men's national Rugby League team] as the country's third-most popular national team, behind only the men's Test cricket team and the Socceroos.

The current schedule for the World Cup does not involve Accor Stadium until the round of 16, and the only possible conflict to the plan is that the third NRL [men's National Rugby League] State of Origin match is to be played there on July 12—eight days before the Matildas face Ireland.

Ireland plays AFC Champions China in Friendly International in Spain

Regarding Ireland's preparations—the Matildas opponent in Australia's opening match, last month Republic of Ireland head coach named her squad for a 10-day training camp in Marbella Spain, which included a match versus the AFC Women's Asian Cup winner China PR on February 22 in Estadio Nuevo Mirador, Algeciras, Cadiz. Ruesha Littlejohn, Megan Connolly and Heather Payne returned to the squad after missing last November's 4-0 win over Morocco, while Durham WFC goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon and Glasgow City defender Claire Walsh were added following impressive spells at club level.

Two players had first time call-ups after receiving FIFA international clearance to play for the Irish: Manchester United defender Aoife Mannion and Washington Spirit forward Marissa Sheva. Injuries rule out Niamh Fahey (Liverpool—ENG), Savannah McCarthy (Shamrock Rovers), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City—ENG), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Jess Ziu (West Ham United—ENG) Aoife Colvill (Glasgow City—SCO) and Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool—ENG).

Of the 26 players on the roster, the vast majority are playing in the top two tiers in England, (18) with three in the U.S., two in Scotland, two at home in Ireland and one in Germany.

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton—ENG), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion—ENG), Grace Moloney (Reading—ENG), Naoisha McAloon (Durham WFC—ENG)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City--ENG), Diane Caldwell (Reading—ENG), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City—ENG), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses—ENG), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City—SCO), Megan Campbell (Liverpool—ENG), Áine O'Gorman (Shamrock Rovers), Aoife Mannion (Manchester United—ENG)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal—ENG), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage—USA), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion—ENG), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa—ENG), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City—ENG), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses—ENG), Ciara Grant (Hearts—SCO), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City—ENG), Isibeal Atkinson (West Ham United—ENG)

Forwards: Amber Barrett (Potsdam Turbine—GER), Heather Payne (Florida State University—USA), Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses—ENG), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit—USA).

The Republic of Ireland tied AFC Champions China (0-0) in their friendly in Spain on February 22, their ninth consecutive game without a loss (only two ties). Ireland came close to a win in the second half when debutant Marissa Sheva sent a corner into the box and was deflected off of a Chinese player into the goal but was waved off for a foul. Ireland continues their WWC preparation with two friendlies against the U.S. in April in Austin Texas and St. Louis, Missouri and then at home against Zambia on June 22 and a final send-off game against France in Dublin on July 6.

FFA Cup of Nations

Football Federation of Australia hosted a four-nation tournament during the February international tournament. On February 16, Australia beat Czech Republic 4-0 at Industree Group Stadium in Gosford—the home of Central Coast Mariners—with 2 goals from Haley Raso (Manchester City) and one each by Sam Kerr (Chelsea) and Clare Polkinghorn (Vittsjo GIK of Sweden). Spain beat Jamaica 3-0 in the other FFA Cup of Nations opener at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, New South Wales. Then on February 19, the Matildas defeated Spain 3-2 with goals from Cortnee Vine (Sydney FC), Polkinghorn and Caitlin Foord (Arsenal) to stake a 3-0 lead just before halftime. Olga Carmona (Real Madrid CF) in the 73rd and Alba Redondo (Levante UK_ 94th made the score respectable for Spain in front of 17,333 fans at CommBank stadium in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta. Czech Republic defeated Jamaica 3-2 in Newcastle with a 90th minute goal from Alena Peckova (21), who plays at home with FC Slovacko.

On February 22, Australia beat Jamaica 3-0 in Newcastle with goals by Katrina Gorry (Vittsjo GIK/Brisbane Roar), Alexandra Chidiac (Melbourne Victory/Racing Louisville of the NWSL) and Foord in front of a good crowd of 9,093. Also in Newcastle, Spain defeated Czech Republic 3-0 with Esther Gonzalez (30) of Real Madrid scoring a brace by the 40th minute.

Australia won the tournament with 9 points, Spain was second on 6 after their narrow defeat to the host nation, the Czech Republic was third on 3 points and Jamaica finished in fourth with 0 points.

Arnold Clark Cup in England

England continued their undefeated streak since Sarina Wiegman took charge of the team in September of 2021 when they finished top of the table (9 points) over Belgium (6 points) and two fellow 2023 WWC Finalists: Italy (3 points) and Korea Republic (0 points). England scored 12 goals to 2 allowed, including a 6-1 final round victory of Belgium, while the other three sides had negative goal differentials (-3 for Belgium), (-1 for Italy) and (-6 for Korea Republic). England is now unbeaten in 28 matches since Wiegman took over, with only 4 ties, and the 2022 Women's EURO title. England should definitely make the WWC Championship Final this summer, with other favorites including the two-time reigning champions U.S., Spain, Germany and Australia.

Pinatar Cup in Spain

Last month, Philippines went to their first Spring Tournament in Europe to play three European sides ahead of the Women's World Cup—Iceland, Scotland and Wales. Interestingly, all three sides fell in the UEFA Qualifying Playoffs Final Round—Wales to Switzerland (2-1) away after extra time, Scotland to the Republic of Ireland (1-0) at home and Iceland away to Portugal (4-1) after extra time.

On February 15, Wales defeated the Philippines 1-0 and three days later Scotland bested the Asian side 2-1. The wheels fell off in their final tournament game on February 21 as the Philippines lost to Iceland (5-0). Midfielder Meryl Abrahamsen (25), scored the Philippines only goal of the tournament in the 90th minute against Scotland. She is another diaspora in this side that heavily relies on players born abroad (with many playing in other countries); she was born in Norway and is set to play for Starjnan this season after three seasons with Arna-Bjornan, one season at Lillestrom where she won a league title and Avaldsnes, who she won her first Toppserien title in 2017.

She played for Norway at the U-23 level. If she makes the team this season, she and national teammate Sara Eggesvik, who is also of Norway, would play the nation of their birth in their last Group game in New Zealand. Eggesvik (25) was born in Norway and is in medical school; she has played at home with Kil/Henne in the Norwegian second division (1. Division Women) and played for Charlton Athletic in 2019 and 2020 in England. Iceland won the Pinatar Cup title with 7 points, over Wales (5 points), Scotland (4 points) and the Philippines finished last with 0 points.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham is on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Video of the day:

Tim Grainey
About the author

Tim Grainey

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free