This week, we again look at some international friendlies from the April FIFA International window.
A few weeks ago, we looked at the results from some major friendlies involving 2023 WWC Final teams for this summer's tournament, including Australia, Brazil, England, Spain and the U.S. (See: The Week in Women's Football: Results, rosters - our big World Cup form preview - Tribal Football). We wanted to look at some other international sides who played during April, including a few developing sides in Europe, two WWC qualifiers through February's international playoffs in New Zealand from CONCACAF and Morocco—who are also headed to the WWC Finals from CAF after finishing second in their continental championships last summer.
We also have news on the hosting rights award for the 2025 Women's EURO to Switzerland and a late bid for the 2027 WWC from a joint U.S.-Mexico bid. We also report that the Canadian Women's Pro Soccer League that intends to launch in 2025 has added a third market—and a very important one at that—in Toronto, as well as a fourth major sponsor.
Moldova versus Haiti in Turkey
Moldova was originally scheduled to play two games in Turkey against WWC Finals-bound Haiti but their first game on April 6 was postponed and Haiti met Nigeria the next day. Moldova therefore played local Turkish side 1207 Antalyaspor, losing 1-0. The Turkish Top Division team finished fifth in Group B with a 7-4-7 (W-D-L) record for 25 points after 18 games, with the 19 teams split into two first round groups, and are into the championship playoffs with 12 teams. In the first round they lost to Besiktas of Istanbul (4-0 at home and 3-0 away) and are eliminated from the playoffs this season.
On April 10, Haiti defeated Moldova 3-1. Les Grenadieres built a 3-0 lead by the 55th minute with goals by Roseline Eloissaint (FC Nantes of France), Batcheba Louis (FC Fluery 91 of France) and Shwendesky 'Kiki' Joseph (Zenit St. Petersburg, where she has 1 goal in 7 games this season—she split last season between Zenit and Rubin Kazan and had 9 goals in 23 games) but Moldova pulled one back in the 85th minute through a penalty kick taken successfully by their goalkeeper Natalia Munteanu, who roofed her shot just under the crossbar. This was Haiti's first ever win over a European team. A few days earlier on April 7, Haiti fell to Nigeria 2-1—Nigeria also dispatched New Zealand by a 3-0 scoreline during their trip to Turkey (see: The Week in Women's Football: Results, rosters - our big World Cup form preview - Tribal Football).
Moldova has not won a match since a UEFA Women's EURO Qualifier back in November of 2019 in Chisinau against Azerbaijan (3-1); since that win, in 21 matches played, they have lost 20 times against full international sides, with only one tie last June—again in Chisinau—in a WWC qualifier against Lithuania. Moldova is ranked 110th out of 188 nations (45th out of 52 UEFA nations) as of the March 24, 2023 FIFA rankings—with the 188 nations ranked the most ever included by FIFA, as more countries continue to add women's national team programs.
Moldovan coach Eduard Blănuță brought in 21 players, of which 13 play at clubs abroad, with six in Romania, two each in Austria and Spain, and one each in Italy, Kazakhstan and Lithuania:
Goalkeepers: Natalia Munteanu (PM Priol, Spain), Evghenia Dumic (Agarista CSF Anenii Noi)
Defenders: Violeta Miţul (FF La Solana, Spain), Anastasia Sivolobova (FC Tomiris-Turan, Kazakhstan), Tatiana Peşterean (ACS Banat Girl, Romania), Cristina Cerescu (CS Gloria 2018 Bistriţa Năsăud, Romania), Andreea Costin (RW Rankweil, Austria), Daniela Mardari, Mădălina Bădiceanu (both, CS Noroc), Mihaela Burdeniuc (FC Noroc), Mihaela Burdeniuc (FC Belceanka)
Midfielders: Irina Topal (FK Vilnius, Lithuania), Nadejda Colesnicenco (Apulia Trani, Italy), Claudia Chiper (FC Carmen Bucharest, Romania), Carina Doiban (ACS Ladies Târgu Mureș, Romania), Mihaela Catarău (ACS Banat Girls Reşiţa, Romania), Elina Coceanovschi (RW Rankweil, Austria), Lia Vlas (CS Noroc), Bianca Druță (Agarista CSF Anenii Noi)
Strikers: Carolina Ţabur (FC Universitatea Olimpia Cluj, Romania), Veronica Cojuhari, Olesea Terentiev (both, Agarista CSF Anenii Noi)
Luxembourg vs. Faroe Islands
During the April international window, Luxembourg (ranked 118th overall and 47th in Europe) played two matches against the visiting Faroe Islands (102nd overall and 43rd in Europe). In the first game on April 5, the two teams combined for ten goals, ending up in a 5-5 deadlock. Luxembourg's Rout Leiwinnen's national team was led by Amy Thompson, who scored a hat trick. Faroe Islands scored two goals just before the end of the first half to take a 3-2 lead into the sheds. Jens Tórolvsdóttir then scored to give the Faroes a 4-2 lead just over five minutes into the second half. Julia Mortenson extended the lead to 5-2 in the 67th minute.
Heidi Sevdal finished with two goals. For the hosts, Amy Thompson scored two of her three goals within the last three minutes to help Luxembourg claw back the deficit to share the points in an exciting game. Thompson (29) plays at FC Maer 32 in her second year at the club and spent time with 1 FC Saarbrucken in Germany She now has 23 goals in 32 full internationals. She played collegiate at Stoney Brook University in New York State for the Seawolves. the second game on April 8, Luxembourg won the match (2-1) with a late goal in front of 312 spectators in Hosingen. Sedval gave the Faroes Islanders the lead in the 30th minute and they kept it through the first half. Amy Thompson tied up the match in the 50th minute. Captain Laura Miller scored the winner late in the match.
The Faroe Islands roster included two players in Denmark and one from Sweden, with the rest based at home:
Margit Kwao, 07 Vestur
Julia Naomi Mortensen, AaB (Denmark)
Olga Kristina Hansen, B36 Tórshavn
Valborg Østerø, B36 Tórshavn
Lea Símunardóttir Lisberg, EBS/Skála
Jens Tórolvsdóttir, FC Thy – Thisted Q (Denmark)
Sarita Maria Mittfoss, HB Tórshavn
Sunneva Willemoes, HB Tórshavn
Rúna Jacobsen, HB Tórshavn
Óluva Allansdóttir Joensen, KÍ Klaksvík
Birita Ryan, KÍ Klaksvík
Tórunn Højgaard Joensen, KÍ Klaksvík
Sanna Svarvadal, KÍ Klaksvík
Eyðvør Klakstein, KÍ Klaksvík
Tóra Mohr, KÍ Klaksvík
Rebekka Benbakoura, KÍ Klaksvík
Sara Samson Lamhauge, NSÍ Runavík
Rúna Olsen, NSÍ Runavík
Heidi Sevdal, NSÍ Runavík
Ásla Johannesen, Piteå IF (Sweden)
Maria á Lakjuni, Víkingur
Mona Rasmusdóttir, Víkingur
Matches between CONCACAF sides
Panama vs. Dominican Republic
In CONCACAF, WWC Finals-bound Panama hosted the improving and import-heavy Dominican Republic in a two-match series. Panama won the first match on April 6 (1-0) on a single goal by Hilary Jean. On April 9 at the Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez Stadium in Panama City, Marta Cox, Lineth Cedeno, Erika Hernandez and Karla Riley scored the goals for Panama in a 4-3 victory, with Cedeno creating two assists.
Head Coach Nacho Quintana—who is Mexican and joined Panama after being an assistant coach with Nicaragua's WNT—has been in charge of the team since January 2012 and oversaw his 15th match, with 8 wins, 3 ties and only 4 losses, with a goals for tally of 26 with 22 against. This was the fourth time that the teams had faced each other including a 5-0 win in Panama at the Rod Carew National Stadium in July of 2021.
For the two-match series versus DR, Quintana called in 23 players with all of the squad based in Panama except for three imports from U.S. clubs:
1 SASHA FÁBREGA 23 OCTOBER 1990, 32 years old, Santiago, Veragua
12 NADIA DUCREUX 25 JANUARY 1992, 31 years old, Chitré, Herrera
22 STEPHANI VARGAS 1 FEBRUARY 1999, age 24, Panama City
2 HILARY JAÉN 29 August 2002, 20 years, Las Margaritas, Chepo
3 WENDY NATIS August 19, 2002, Panama City
4 KATHERINE CASTILLO March 23, 1996, age 26, Panama City
5 YOMIRA PINZÓN August 23, 1996, age 26, Panama City
15 ROSARIO VARGAS 9 August 2002, 20 years old, Panama City
16 REBECA ESPINOSA 5 July 1992, 30 years old, David, Chiriquí
21 NICOLE DE OBALDÍA March 16, 2000, age 22, Panama City
23 CARINA BALTRIP-REYES July 1, 1998, age 24, Austin, Texas, USA
6 DEYSIRÉ SALAZAR 4 MAY 2004, 18 years old, Río Alejandro, Colón
7 EMILY CEDEÑO 22 NOVEMBER 2003, 19 years old, Puerto Armuelles, Chiriquí
8 SCHIANDRA GONZÁLEZ 4 JULY 1995, 27 years old, David, Chiriquí
10 MARTA COX JULY 20, 1997, 25 years old, Panama City
11 NATALIA MILLS 22 MARCH 1993, age 29, Panama City
14 LAURIE BATISTA 29 MAY 1996, 26 years old, Panama City
18 ERIKA HERNÁNDEZ 17 MARCH 1999, 23 years old, Panama City
20 ALDRITH QUINTERO 1 JANUARY 2002, 21 years old, Nuevo Tocumen, Panama City
9 KARLA RILEY SEPTEMBER 18, 1997, AGE 25, Panama City
13 RILEY TANNER 15 OCTOBER 1999, 23 YEARS OLD, Grand Rapids, Michigan
17 GABRIELA VILLAGRAND 1 DECEMBER 1999, 23 YEARS OLD, Houston, Texas
19 LINETH CEDEÑO 5 DECEMBER 2000, 22 YEARS OLD, Panama City
Note: Baltrip-Reyes went to college at Florida International University and the University of Florida and played in 2021-22 with Spartak Subotica in Serbia, after being in the Houston Dash's pre-season camp and playing for their reserves. Villagrand played at San Angelo State University in Texas. Tanner played at the Universities of South Carolina and Alabama and is currently with the Washington Spirit (See: The Week in Women's Football: WC Playoffs; Riley explains Panama choice; PNG appoint ex-Man City defender Prior - Tribal Football).)
The Dominican Republic roster, named by Colombian coach Henry Parra in his first games with the national team, was comprised of 21 players (see below). The side loaded with players from abroad including 12 from the U.S., two from Spain and one each from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Poland and Spain; only four currently play at home, mirroring what Guyana did quite well recently in the first round of 2023 WWC CONCACAF Qualifying with their Canadian-based coach and most of his players from Canada (see last year's feature: The Week in Women's Football: Interview with Guyana coach Joseph; Review of Guide to Club Licensing in Women's Football - Tribal Football). For Sedofútbol, these two matches helped to prepare the side for the 2024 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup Qualifier that will begin in September of this year:
Mirda Minyeti (Club 5 de Abril – RD)
Odaliana Gómez (University of Delaware – USA)
Alexa Pacheco (Goldey Beacom College – USA)
Lynette Ureña (Eagle FC Women – USA)
Nadia Colón (UT Rio Grande Valley College – USA)
Yomerci Brito (Club 5 de Abril – RD)
Brianne Reed (South Melbourne FC – Australia)
Juliette Barbush (Kennesaw State University – USA)
Gabriela Cuevas (SMS Lodz – Poland)
Gabriela Marte (Hofstra University – USA)
Jazlyn Moya (Eagles Women FC – USA)
Claudia Alcántara (Santa Fe FC – RD)
Winibian Peralta (Municipal Pérez Zeledón – Costa Rica)
Jazlyn Oviedo (University of Vermont – USA)
Liliane Class (Angelina College – USA)
Mia Asenjo (University of Central Florida – USA)
Lucía Marte (Real Betis – Spain)
Yoana Peralta (Canada)
Cheila Acosta (Bob Soccer School – RD)
Vanessa Kara (USA)
Kathrynn Gonzalez (USA)
Note: RD is Dominican Republic
Reed was born in the U.S. in New Jersey and played in the NWSL in Kansas City as well as professionally in Sweden and Denmark—she joined the DR side in 2021. She is now playing in the Victoria NPL W with South Melbourne. Also, for the Dominican Republic, forward Mía Asenjo returned to the national team after a long knee injury that took more than a year to fully recover.
In other CONCACAF games, Barbados defeated St. Lucia (5-1) in Bridgetown on March 31 and again on April 6 (6-0), again in Bridgetown, with two goals and an assist from their free-soring striker Shanice Stevenson (29), who plays with West Indies Blackbirds in the Barbados Football Association Women's Super League, where many of the national team members play.
Russia plays two friendlies in Belarus
Interestingly Russia—who is suspended by FIFA and UEFA after their invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022—played two internationals against close ally Belarus, who have not been banned internationally, with Russia winning 2-0 on April 10 after a 0-0 tie three-days earlier, with both games in Minsk.
Morocco loses two matches to Eastern European sides
Morocco played two games in April in Europe, falling to the Czech Republic in Chomutov 2-0 on April 6 and then again to Romania 1-0 in Bucharest on April 11. In February, the side that will be the first team from North Africa/West Africa to qualify for a WWC Finals, also played two friendlies in Europe, but won them both, on February 17 against Slovakia (3-0), with goals Rosella Ayane (27) of Tottenham Hotspur in the 47th minute, Fatima Tagnaout (24) of FAR Rabat in the 60th minute and Yasmine Mrabet (23) of Levante Las Palmas of Spain in the 76th minute. On February 21 against Bosnia-Herzegovina (2-0), Ayane scored again in the BH match., with both games in Turkey.
Iceland defeats Switzerland away—their first win over the Swiss in almost four decades
Iceland's captain Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir scored the first goal in the 18th minute in a match held in Zurich. Switzerland evened the score in the 39th minute and the score remained 1-1 at half-time. Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir gave Iceland the victory with a goal in the 73rd minute, the first time that Iceland has defeated the Swiss in almost 37 years. Iceland faced New Zealand last Friday in a friendly match in which the match ended in a 1-1 draw in Antalya, Turkey (see: The Week in Women's Football: Results, rosters - our big World Cup form preview - Tribal Football).
Þorsteinn H. Halldórsson, Iceland's National A women's coach, chose the following roster for the two friendlies, with five players based in Sweden, four players based in Germany, and one each in England, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and the U.S., with nine based at home:
Cecilía Rán Rúnarsdóttir - Bayern Munich, GER - 9 games
Telma Ívarsdóttir - Breiðablik - 2 games
Íris Dögg Gunnarsdóttir - Vigour R.
Ásta Eir Árnadóttir - Breiðablik - 11 games
Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir - Bayern Munich, GER - 110 games, 8 goals
Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir – Valerenga, NOR - 51 games
Guðrún Arnardóttir - FC Rosengard, SWE - 23 games, 1 goal
Arna Sif Ásgrímsdóttir - Valur - 14 games, 1 goal
Áslaug Munda Gunnlaugsdóttir - Breiðablik - 14 games
Sandra María Jessen - Thor/KA - 31 games, 6 goals
Dagný Brynjarsdóttir - West Ham, ENG - 111 games, 37 goals
Hildur Antonsdóttir - Fortuna Sittard, NED - 2 games
Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir - Stjarnan 99 games, 14 goals
Alexandra Johannsdottir - ACF Fiorentina, ITA - 31 games, 4 goals
Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir - Bayern Munich, GER - 25 games, 8 goals
Selma Sól Magnúsdóttir – Rosenborg, SWE - 24 games, 4 goals
Amanda Jacobsen Andradóttir - Kristanstads DFF, SWE - 12 games, 2 goals
Agla María Albertsdóttir - Breiðablik - 53 games, 4 goals
Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir – Wolfsburg, GER - 28 games, 7 goals
Svava Rós Guðmundsdóttir - NJ/NY Gotham, USA - 42 games, 2 goals
Hlín Eiríksdóttir - Kristianstads DFF, SWE - 22 games, 4 goals
Ólöf Sigríður Kristinsdóttir – Throttur Reykjavik. - 2 games, 2 goals
Diljá Ýr Zomers - IFK Norrköping, SWE - 3 games
Gunnhildur "Gunny" Yrsa Jónsdóttir played in her hundredth full international match against New Zealand. She played her first full national team match in October 2011 against Northern Ireland (2-0) in UEFA Women's EURO qualifiers. She was a member of the last two UEFA Women's EURO sides. In 100 games, she has 14 goals for the national team. She played one season at Pepperdine University in Malibu (Suburban LA) in 2010 and primarily in Norway until joining the Utah Royals in the NWSL in 2018 and playing in the NWSL through last season, including the last two seasons in Orlando (see more about her recent move back to Starjnan in Iceland in: The Week in Women's Football: NWSL (P3) preview - Spirit Rodman bobblehead; Ex-Spurs coach Amoros at Gotham - Tribal Football).
Switzerland wins hosting rights to the 2025 UEFA Women's EURO
In April of 2023, Switzerland was awarded the 2025 UEFA Women's European Championships, beating a joint Nordic bid from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as individual bids from Poland and France. Switzerland earned six votes in the second ballot of the UEFA Executive Committee to defeat the Nordic bid, which had received four. In the first round, France and Poland were eliminated.
The 16-team tournament will take place in eight venues across Switzerland in the summer of 2025 under plans presented by the Swiss Football Association (SFV). SFV President Dominique Blanc said: "This is a historic day for Switzerland, the SFV and women's football. This big step will shape the development of women's football at all levels. I would like to thank everyone involved who made this project possible, especially those responsible at the Federal Government, the cantons and the host cities, who have supported us from the start."
The tournament in Switzerland is due to take place over four weeks in June and July 2025 in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Zurich, St. Gallen, Sion, Lucerne and Thun. Together, the stadiums have a stadium capacity of over 750,000 spectators for all games in the tournament, with St Jakob-Park in Basel the biggest, with a capacity of 37,500. Though we don't think England's total attendance record will be broken and no chance of surpassing the Final last summer at Wembley of 87, 192 with the smaller stadiums, we do expect that the tournament will be a festival for women's football, much like in the Netherlands in 2017. I have personally attended games in Basel, Geneva, Zurich, St. Gallen and Lucerne—the stadiums are fantastic as are the views and will bring a lot of culture and fan atmosphere.
This will be Switzerland's first time hosting the European Women's Championship, though in 2008 the country was a co-host with Austria of the men's Finals. Though not at the level of the attendance that England had last year, Switzerland will certainly do a nice job as host of the next Women's EURO.
2027 Women's World Cup Bidders
On April 19, during a U.S.-Mexico men's friendly match in Glendale, Arizona (a 1-1 tie in front of a sellout crowd of 55, 730—a near shutout), it was announced that the two federations would be preparing a joint bid for the 2027 Women's World Cup. Mexico and the U.S. will be working together again as they are collaborating on the 2026 men's World Cup—along with Canada—and Los Angeles is hosting the 2028 Summer Olympic Games Finals, which includes women's football. Mexico has certainly become a major player in domestic women's football as we have discussed on multiple occasions over the past few years, including drawing top caliber talent from Europe and other regions.
This joint bid will be competing against three other bids, including Brazil, South Africa and a trio of neighboring countries in Europe: Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. All four bidders can utilize a number of recent stadiums from men's World Cup, including South Africa (from the 2010 men's World Cup), Brazil (from the 2014 men's World Cup) and the three in Europe, including multiple recent men's EURO Final matches. Germany hosted a very successful 2011 Women's World Cup (with 16 teams) while the Netherlands hosted a very well organized and popular Women's EURO as recently as 2017.
Brazil's bid for the 2019 WWC (which we analyzed four years ago) has an issue in that a South American-hosted World Cup would not bring in the revenues of an event in Europe, North America or Asia. The women's game is growing in respect in South America and it would be a fantastic environment for fans in the football-mad country. South Africa would also help to boost the game on the continent, but similar to the Colombia bid for the 2019 WWC, would probably likely be a break-even proposition or just slightly ahead in revenues. We could see some individual games with teams from other regions attracting some very small attendances as well.
Germany, Netherlands and Belgium would be appealing in that you can easily travel between matches by train, unlike the other three bidders. Will the fact that Germany hosted the Women's World Cup just three editions ago (after this summer) work against this bid? The fans are certainly in the region and will draw fans throughout Europe. This writer feel that the European bid faces the largest challenge to the CONCACAF proposal.
For the Mexico-U.S. bid, Mexico by 2026 will have hosted (or co-hosted) three men's World Cups, while the 1994 men's World Cup in the U.S. was a seminal moment for the growth of the game in general. The U.S. hosted the Women's World Cup in 1999 and 2003 (stepping in late for China, who were struggling with the SARS virus) to strong attendances and solid media interest. It would be great for CONCACAF for the Women's World Cup to come back to the region for the first time in 24 years and hopefully boost both domestic leagues. We always thought that the U.S. would bid for the 2031 WWC, with the only question now being if hosting men's and women's World Cups within one year (along with the Olympic Games Finals the following year) will be too much for the U.S. Soccer Federation (and Mexico) to manage. Also, could it even reach the point among fans of no mas no mas or too much football (as we do have four other major sports that are competition).
FIFA will vote for the winner on May 17, 2024 during the FIFA annual Congress. Bidding agreements will have to be completed by this month (May 19) and official bid documents delivered by December 8, 2023, with FIFA perhaps doing a preliminary cut to a final three. The 2027 tournament will have 32 teams playing 64 games, as this summer's tournament will in Austria and New Zealand.
On a related topic, the 2027 WWC Media Rights are expected to sell for more than US$300 Million, according to the Wall Street Journal, which could enter into the decision and probably preclude the Brazil and South Africa bids. The 2019 edition had 1.12 billion viewers across all platforms and should be shattered this summer for a larger tournament. This is the first time that the WWC rights will be sold separately.
Proposed Canadian Women's Pro Soccer League adds a team and a sponsor
The Canadian Women's Pro Soccer League, run by Project 8, has signed a third franchise in AFC Toronto City to join the Vancouver Whitecaps and Calgary Foothills. The league has also added a fourth partnership with DoorDash. They joined CIBC, Air Canada and Canadian Tire as dedicated partners in creating opportunities for Canadian women in sports through the development of this league.