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The Week in Women's Football: UEFA World Cup qualifiers; Asian Cup set; AFCON qualifers

This week we look at some of the many 2023 Women's World Cup Qualifiers held during the latest FIFA international window this month, with matches in UEFA and AFC, the latter which has now finalised the final 12 teams for the 2022 Asian Women's Championship in January 2022 in India. We also look selectively at some key women's international friendlies in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, including major friendlies with teams from Asia and Oceania. We also look at the first round qualifiers for the second leg of the Women's African Cup of Nations—after covering the first leg last week.



UEFA 2023 Women's World Cup Qualifiers

The Republic of Ireland, boosted by its 3-2 friendly win at home over Australia last month, could not do the double in upsets, falling to Sweden 1-0 in their opening UEFA 2023 Women's World Cup Group A qualifier at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin in front of a limited capacity crowd of 4,000 on October 21. Louise Quinn (Birmingham City) scored into her own net in the 39th minute for the only goal of the match, deflecting a Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken) long shot past Irish keeper Courtney Brosnan (Everton of England), who had a strong effort in holding off a rampant Sweden side. Brighton & Hove Albion star Megan Connolly returned in the only change from the Australia match and English-born Lucy Quinn and Galway's Savannah McCarthy made their first competitive starts. Ireland needed quickly to turn its full focus on gaining full points with their other three sides in Group A—Finland, Slovakia and Georgia—to finish second with a chance of the playoffs to make the 2023 Women's World Cup, as Sweden is heavily favored to win the group, having won the Silver Medal last summer at the Olympics after a penalty kicks loss to Canada.


Swedish players celebrate the only goal of the game.

Arsenal forward Katie McCabe's look (#11 in foreground) says it all about her feelings after the Republic of Ireland surrenders a goal against Sweden in Women's World Cup Qualifying in Dublin on October 21 as Swedish players celebrate the only goal of the game. Photo Credit: Sportsfile



On October 26, the Irish went to Helsinki and came away with a resounding statement victory that they are not to be underestimated in this WWC Qualifying cycle after a massive 2-1 away victory over Finland, a side that qualified for the EURO Finals next summer by dispatching the Portugal to the playoffs (who subsequently lost to Russia over two legs) and sending Scotland out of the competition after their third place finish.

The Irish used an early goal from Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion in the WSL) in the 9th minute and held the lead until Adeline Engman (Vaxjo of Sweden after a season with Montpellier in France following two seasons with Chelsea in the WSL) tied the match up for Finland in the 52nd minute. The North Carolina Courage's midfield inspiration Denise O'Sullivan gave her side the lead again four minutes later and they held out for a significant road victory—one journalist called it "a coming-out party for the team"—against a side that likely is their prime opponent for second in the group and the playoffs for a first ever WWC final spot for either nation. Luckily for the Irish, O'Sullivan was cleared to travel to Finland after the Sweden match in Dublin following a medical inspection on a suspected arm injury.

After the game, Megan Connolly said, "To get the win was tough, a fight to the very end—they put the ball on top of us for the last 10-15 minutes….we had the belief to take that extra step forward to put the pressure on them and put them on the back foot—that was the game plan to try really be brave and not sit too deep. That helped us at the start to build into it….You dream of visualizing putting it in there….To get three points on the board is the biggest thing for us if we want to achieve something in the group." The Republic of Ireland side has long been known for their defense, but if they can keep scoring as they did in this match, they will be well-placed to replicate their northern neighbors (Northern Ireland) who used an attacking approach to make their first ever major finals next summer at the Women's EUROs in England.

Sweden leads the group with 9 points from 3 games, with Finland on 6 points from 3 games and Slovakia with 3 points from 3 games (1 win and 2 losses). The Republic of Ireland has 3 points from 2 games with a game in hand over Finland and Slovakia and should feel buoyant after their win in Finland.


DeniseOSullivanVFinland.jpg

Denise O'Sullivan (#10 in green) turns to celebrate after scoring the ultimate winner against Finland on October 26 in Helsinki in UEFA Women's World Cup Qualifying. Photo Courtesy Football Association of Ireland).


Republic of Ireland WNT Squad for Sweden/Finland

Goalkeepers: Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths), Roma McLaughlin (Central Connecticut State University), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Rianna Jarrett (London City Lionesses), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City)

In other action, in Group I, Greece won an important away match against Kazakhstan on October 22 with an 85th minute goal from Grigoria Pouliou (20) in Nur-Sultan. Pouliou won a Greek league title last season for her Greek club side PAOK. The Greeks slipped up four days later however at home against Slovenia (4-1) as Mateja Zver (St. Polten of Austria) and Lara Prasnikar (Eintract Frankfurt) had braces for Slovenia. Wales is still undefeated on 10 points from four matches (see below), two points behind France, and three points ahead of Slovenia with 7 points and four ahead of Greece on 6 points.

Poland surprising had a scoreless draw at home with Norway in Group F on October 21. This was an important point gained by Poland, who are expected to be in a fierce battle with Belgium and Albania for the second spot in this six team group. Poland bounced back on October 26 for a 2-0 win over Albania in Tychy in Group F and sits two points behind Norway in second with an undefeated record (2-2-0-8 points) and one point ahead of Belgium (2-2-1-7 points). Kosovo and Albania each has one win and one tie from four games and are tied in the standings with four points.

Portugal won 2-1 over Serbia in Setubal in Group H with goals from Ana Borges and Dolores Silva from the penalty spot while Nina Matejic (16) sent the sides into the sheds even with a late first half injury goal. Borges (31) has been with Sporting Lisbon since 2017-18 after three years with Chelsea in the English Super League, Atletico Madrid in Spain and Santa Clarita Blue Heat of the UWS in the States. Silva (30) is with Sporting Braga in Portugal after stints with Atletico Madrid in Spain and with Jena and Duisburg in Germany. Matejic, who plays at home with KFK Plana, has scored in her second consecutive national team match after netting the only goal last month against Germany in a 5-1 defeat for Serbia.

On October 26, Portugal won decisively in Bulgaria 5-0 in Group H, with two goals coming in the first five minutes. Portugal has 10 points after 4 games, two behind Germany with 12, and both sides have opened up a gap over Turkey (4 points) and Serbia (3)—with the latter two nations only playing three games to date.

On the lone qualifier played on Saturday October 23, Northern Ireland held England in Group D scoreless for over an hour before two substitutes just after the hour mark changed the game; Beth Mead (Arsenal) scored her first goal in the 64th minute and added two more within the next 15 minutes, along with one from Beth England (Chelsea) for a 4-0 victory. In the league, Mead has 3 goals in 5 league matches for the Gunners. One notable achievement for the Irish was that Julie Nelson equaled Pat Jennings' record of 119 caps for Northern Ireland, and Kelsie Burrows made her first competitive start for Northern Ireland.

In the teams' second match of the international window, England travelled to Latvia and came home with a 10-0 victory, with Ella Toone (Manchester United) scoring three times—one more than she has in five games thus far in the WSL in 2021-22—and Rachel Daly (Houston Dash in America) adding a brace. England's head coach Sarina Weigman expressed her concern with the heavy scoreline against Latvia—something which other coaches in Europe have talked about, "Of course, we want to develop the whole game so countries that are very-well developed already; you want to improve them too and countries like Latvia, they need facilities to get to a higher level. I don't think it's really good we have these scores all the time. It's not good for them; I don't think they had any chances and it's actually not good for us either. So we just have to address it and try to figure it out with UEFA, a way that will be good for the further development of the whole game of every country in Europe." The current format of one top team, one or two fighting for second and the others struggling could be changed to a tier format like the men's Nations League to allow the developing nations to playoff against each other and then advance to play-in matches against a tier higher than them.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland hosted Austria at Seaview and was a minute away from a famous victory before Stefanie Enzinger (St. Polten) scored in the 92nd minute for Austria to grab a share of the points. Barbara Dunst (Eintract Frankfurt) scored for the visitors just before the half-time break but Lauren Wade (Glentoran) knotted the scoreline just after the restart and Demi Vance (Glasgow Rangers of Scotland after time with Glentoran and West Australian state league ball in Perth) added a second after 50 minutes. NI manager Kenny Shiels said after the game, "Our players were massively on their knees [after the match] they couldn't move any more. They ran to a standstill. The supporters were unbelievable and they [the players] wanted to give something back to their country and they achieved that tenfold. It brings happiness to the country, absolutely." In Group D, new head coach Sarina Wiegman has England firing on all cylinders, leading the group after 4 games with 4 wins and a goals for/goals against total of 32-0. With the tie in Belfast, Austria is in second with 10 points from four games while Northern Ireland is third with a 2-2-1-7 points record.

Signe Brunn (23) had 5 goals in Denmark's 8-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina at home in Viborg on October 21 in Group E. Brunn moved to Olympique Lyon this season—scoring 3 goals in 6 games thus far—after three seasons with PSG. Denmark and Russia are joint top of the group with 12 points after 4 games, with a substantial gap over Montenegro (6 points) and Malta (4 points).

In two important matches on October 22 involving the home countries that were much closer than the Denmark or England matches, Slovenia tied Wales 1-1 in Lendava in Group I and Scotland left it late to defeat Hungary 2-1 in Glasgow at Hamden Park in Group B, with Kansas City's Rachel Corsie getting the winning goal in the 90th minute, though Scotland had to hang on through 5 minutes of added time. Spain and Scotland are joint leaders with 9 points from 3 games, with Ukraine in third with 3 points from 2 games and Hungary has 3 points from 4 games (see more below).

Scotland then fell 2-0 on October 26 to Sweden in a friendly in Paisley, with late goals by Frido Rolfo (Barcelona of Spain) in the 72nd minute and an own goal five minutes from time by Sophie Howard, who plays with Leicester City in the WSL after two years with Reading. She previously played in Hoffenheim and was born in Germany and played with Germany's U-20 national team; she was also called into a "next generational camp for England" before being drafted into Scotland's national side in 2017 when the team was short of defenders. She played for the University of Central Florida in the States as well as for the Colorado Pride in the W-League in 2014 and 2015.

In the Slovenia-Wales match, Manja Rogan (26), who plays with Olimpija Ljubljana, opened the scoring in the 69th minute but Keyleigh Green (33), who is in her fourth season with Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Super League, tied up the match. Wales then won over Estonia 4-0 in Cardiff on October 26 in Group I with a first half goal from Angharad James (North Carolina Courage after three seasons with Reading in the WSL) and second half strikes from Helen Ward (Watford in England's second division Championship), Natasha Harding (Reading in the WSL) and Sophie Ingle (Chelsea in England).

Hungary stated their Group B away match on October 26 in Torshavn badly, as Faroe Islands scored in the 8th minute through 19-year-old midfielder Lea Lisberg—who scored 20 goals in 21 matches in the 2021 season with EBS/Skala and could be on the cards for a future move to a larger European league—but Fanni Vago (Ferencvaros) scored a hat-trick and Dora Zeller (Bayer Leverkusen) added a brace as Hungary was ahead 5-1 by halftime and finished with a 7-1 victory.

Iceland bounced back from a 2-0 home loss to the Netherlands last month to defeat Czech Republic in Reykjavik on October 22 in a mammoth victory in Group C, as the Czech side has been developing quite nicely over the past few years. Bergling Borg Porvaldsdottir (29)—who played with Hammarby in Sweden this fall after a season in Le Havre in France, where she scored 5 goals in 18 matches—opened the scoring in the 12th minute. She played collegiately in the States at Florida State University. Second half goals from Dagny Brynjarsdottier (30)—in her second season with West Ham United in Sweden after three seasons with the NWSL's Portland Thorns—Svava Gudmundsdottir, (25) who is in her second season with Bordeaux in France after time in Sweden, Norway and at home, and Gunni Jonsdottir (33), who is playing with the Orlando Pride in the NWSL after 3 seasons with the now-defunct Utah Royals and many seasons in Norway, finished off the visitors to Reykjavik in Group C. The visitors held the advantage in shots (19 vs. 11) and shots on goals (7 vs. 5). Iceland continued their good run of form with a 5-0 home win over Cyprus on October 26, with Jonsdottir leading the way with a brace. Netherlands leads Group C with 10 points from four games, with Iceland second on 6 points from three games and Czech Republic third with 4 points from three games, followed by Belarus with 3 points from two games and Cyprus with 0 points from four matches.

In Group G, Italy and Switzerland both had two victories during the October international window. Italy defeated Croatia 3-0 at home and Lithuania 5-0 on the road. Switzerland bested Romania 2-0 and Croatia 5-0 both at home. Italy and Switzerland are both undefeated with 12 points from 4 matches, while Romania is still in the frame with 6 points from 3 games, while Moldova, Lithuania and Croatia all are pointless after 2, 3 and 4 games, respectively).



2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup/2023 Women's World Cup Qualifying

Two groups held their preliminary group qualifiers for the 2022 Women's Asian Cup during the FIFA October international window in order to determine the final two qualifiers for the expanded AFC Women's Asian Cup Finals Tournament in India.

In Group A, Chinese Taipei advanced with wins over Laos (4-0) and Bahrain (2-0) in a three team group as Turkmenistan withdrew in August.

In Group D, favored Myanmar advanced to the AFC Finals with victories over Lebanon (4-0), UAE (2-0) and Guam (8-0), compiling a 14-0 goal difference in their three matches.

The Asian Cup, which begins in India in January of 2022, has been expanded from an eight team finals to twelve teams. There will be a total of three groups of four teams, with the first and second-place teams—as well as the two best third-placed teams—in each group progressing to the quarterfinals. For the draw, which will be held on October 28, 2021 at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—which recently announced that the tournament tagline will be 'Our Goal for All'—hosts India will be placed in position A1, with Japan and Australia to be drawn into either B1 or C1 as the two top-seeded nations. The second pot will consist of China PR, Thailand and Korea Republic, while pot 3 will include Philippines, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei, and Pot 4 will contain Myanmar, IR Iran and Indonesia. At press time, the draw resulted in the following three groups as hosts India (ranked 57th in the latest FIFA rankings for women's national teams) have a difficult group to navigate, behind China (17th), Chinese Taipei (40th) and IR Iran (72nd).

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The AFC Women's Asian Cup also acts as qualifiers for the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023, with the top five nations booking their spot. If Australia (as a co-host) finishes in the top five (as expected), then the team ranked sixth will also qualify. Asia will also receive two spots in the 10-team playoff tournament which will produce the last three teams for the World Cup tournament—so the AFC could conceivable end up with 7 or even 8 teams among the Final 32 Women's World Cup Finals squads.

The only Asian Finals debutants for 2022 will be Iran and they should be particularly interesting to follow. This year they won their qualifier over Bangladesh (5-0) and tied Jordan (0-0) last month in Group G—held in Uzbekistan after Bangladesh had an increase in COVID-19 cases—advancing 4-2 on penalties as both teams had a +5 goal difference in their matches against Bangladesh.

Iran's women's national team at the AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifiers in Uzbekistan (Photo Courtesy: Iran Front Page News.com)


Iran's friendly results this year were mixed as, before the qualifiers, they lost to Belarus (6-0) and Uzbekistan (5-0) in Belarus and then travelled to Uzbekistan, losing 2-0 and then tying 1-1 against the host nation. They will have to travel more and play in more friendlies ahead of the finals in India in January to improve their chances of tipping the odds and making the 2023 WWC, particularly with a veteran lineup of teams that they are facing, while Iran have largely been active primarily at the sub-regional level.



CONCACAF/CONMEBOL Friendlies

Mexico defeated Argentina by a commanding 6-1 scoreline on October 23 in the 8,000 capacity Stadium Gregorio "Tepa" Gomez in Tepatitlan de Morelos in Jalisco State, with braces from Sandra Mayor (30), who plays with 2020-21 Opening and Closing Champions Tigres in Monterrey after years in Iceland with Thor/KA, and Alison Gonzalez (19) of Atlas of Guadalajara. Argentina had the lead for much of the first half after an 11th minute goal from Maria Bonsegundo, who joined Madrid CFF this season after two years at Valencia and one with Sporting Huelva; she scored the final goal against Scotland in their 3-3 tie at the 2019 WWC match in Paris, which sent the shocked Scottish side home after they were holding a 3-0 lead well into the second half

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AFC (Asian Football Confederation)/CONMEBOL Friendlies

Australia defeated Brazil 3-1 in their first home match under head coach Tony Gustavsson on October 23, with Clare Polkinghorne scoring the first goal, after Steph Catley's long free kick into the box was headed on by Sam Kerr into the path of Polkinghorne, who was a couple of meters from goal on the far side of the box. Australia doubled the lead when Mary Fowler scored her third goal in two matches off of a header in the box from substitute Emily Van Egmond (who finished the NWSL season with the Orlando Pride and is expected to return to the U.K., after playing for West Ham United last season and Manchester City the campaign before that). Brazil quickly pulled one back as Adriana stripped 100 caps Matilda defender Alana Kennedy deep in the box and buried the ball past goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Catley was crucial on Australia's third goal, taking the ball to the by-line and passing it back into the middle for substitute Emily Van Egmond to score the third goal in Parramatta (suburban Sydney) in front of 15,270 fans. Remy Siemsen and Bryleeh Henry came on for their respective debuts.

In the second match on October 26 again in Parramatta, Australia tied Brazil 2-2 in a brilliant match, with 12,087 fans viewing—a number of them rooting for the visitors. Polkinghorne scored the first goal again for the Matildas and Sam Kerr added the second but Erika and Debinha tallied for Brazil in a ten minute spell starting with Erika's goal in the 64th minute and the Debinha following seven minutes later. Kerr now has 49 goals for her country, just one behind Tim Cahill for the all-time lead for men or women.

As far as the roster for the Matildas, midfielder Chloe Logarzo (Kansas City NWSL) has been sidelined due to a long-term knee injury, while injury has also ruled Hammarby of Sweden's Elise Kellond-Knight (knee), Manchester City of the WSL's Hayley Raso (shoulder) and Aston Villa of the WSL's Emily Gielnik (toe) from the squad.

Several new national team players have retained their place in the squad including September's debutantes Angie Beard, Charli Grant, and Clare Wheeler. Meanwhile Western Sydney product and Young Matildas forward Bryleeh Henry received her first call up to the senior national team.


Commonwealth Bank Matildas 23-player Squad | October 2021

Name

Position

Club

Caps (goals)

Junior Club / Member Fed

Mackenzie Arnold

Goalkeeper

West Ham United

27 (0)

Burleigh / Football QLD

Angela Beard

Back

Fortuna Hjørring

1 (0)

Bethania Rams / Football QLD

Ellie Carpenter

Back

Lyon

50 (1)

Cowra and District / Football NSW

Steph Catley

Back

Arsenal WFC

92 (3)

East Bentleigh, SE Cougars / Football Victoria

Emma Checker

Back

Melbourne City

8 (0)

Cumberland United Women's / Football SA

Kyra Cooney-Cross

Midfielder

Melbourne Victory

10 (0)

Ballarat City / Football Victoria

Caitlin Foord

Forward

Arsenal WFC

92 (21)

Warilla Wanderers / Football NSW

Mary Fowler

Forward

Montpellier

16 (4)

Leichhardt / Football QLD

Charlotte Grant

Back

FC Rosengård

1 (0)

Cumberland United Women's FC / Football SA

Bryleeh Henry

Forward

Western Sydney Wanderers

0 (0)

Penrith FC / Football NSW

Alanna Kennedy

Back

Manchester City

99 (8)

Campbelltown Cobras / Football NSW

Sam Kerr

Forward

Chelsea

100 (48)

Western Knights / Football West

Teagan Micah

Goalkeeper

FC Rosengård

7 (0)

Brisbane Blue, Brisbane Central / Football QLD

Courtney Nevin

Back

Melbourne Victory

4 (0)

Oakville Ravens / Football NSW

Clare Polkinghorne

Back

Vittsjö GIK

136 (11)

Wynnum Wolves, Capalaba / Football QLD

Jamilla Rankin

Back

Brisbane Roar

0 (0)

Eureka FC / Northern NSW

Karly Roestbakken

Back

LSK Kvinner

7 (0)

Monaro Panthers / Capital Football

Remy Siemsen

Forward

Sydney FC

0 (0)

Manly United / Football NSW

Kyah Simon

Forward

Tottenham Hotspur

101 (26)

Quakers Hill, Hills Brumbies / Football NSW

Emily van Egmond

Midfielder

Orlando Pride

108 (23)

Dudley-Redhead / Northern NSW Football

Clare Wheeler

Midfielder

Fortuna Hjørring

1 (0)

Adamstown Rosebud / Northern NSW Football

Lydia Williams

Goalkeeper

Arsenal WFC

92 (0)

Tuggeranong, Woden Valley / Capital Football

Tameka Yallop

Midfielder

West Ham United

97 (11)

Mudgeeraba / Football Queensland

Brazil's side was as follows:

Goalkeepers:

Karen - Minas Brasília

Letícia - Benfica (Portugal)

Lorena - Grêmio

Defenders:
Ana VitoriaBenfica (Portugal)

Tainara - Palmeiras

Erika – Corinthians

Antonia -Madrid C.F.F (Spain)

Bruninha – Santos

Tamires - Corinthians

Thais – Palmeiras

Katrine – Palmeiras

Midfielders:

Julia Bianchi -Palmeiras

Ary Borges - Palmeiras

Angelina- O.L Reign (United States)

Duda -São Paulo

Kerolin -Madrid C.F.F (Spain)

Debinha - North Carolina Courage (United States)

Adriana - Corinthians

Forwards:

Giovana - Levante UD (Spain)

Ludmila – Atletico Madrid (Spain)

Geyse - Madrid CFF (Spain)

Andressa Alves – Roma (Italy)

Marta - Orlando Pride (USA)

Ana Vitoria and Andressa Alves were called in to replace defender Rafaelle of Changchun Dazhong, and striker Bia Zaneratto of Wuhan Xinjiyuan in China, who both played in the Olympic Games Finals this past summer. Due to the health policies for returning to China, the two Chinese-based players would have to quarantine for 28 days, so the technical committee excused them to preserve the athletes' mental and physical health. In addition, Ludmilla of Atletico Madrid replaced forward Nycole Raysla of Benfica (Portugal), who was originally named to the squad but suffered a knee injury.

Goalkeeper Karen, who plays in the capital city of Brasilia, made her first national team ever at the age of 28; she couldn't believe the news at first when she received the invitation from head coach Pia Sundhage, "I confess it was surprising, I didn't believe it. Nayara (President of her club side Minas Brasília) contacted me saying that she had received the letter from the CBF, which I had been summoned. At the time I said 'it's a lie'. The first thing I did was call my parents and tell them I'd been summoned. It was a magical moment when my family and I cried a lot, because my parents live this dream together with me, so that moment was extraordinary….It is wonderful to receive this news, because whether or not Brasilia is not yet a host of women's football. My call ends up making room for new athletes to be called. It also opens a parameter for them to realize that they are being seen, that the selection is noticing. Being the first athlete called playing in Brasilia is a unique moment, Minas opened this door for me and being called for me is being wonderful."

After being cut off by injury from the Olympic Games list, midfielder Adriana was back on the Women's National Team after recovering from surgery on her left knee. The list also included the return Biachi and Giovana, athletes who were on the Olympic Games Finals side.



CONCACAF/OCEANIA Friendlies

Canada faced New Zealand in the nation's capital of Ottawa on October 23 in a women's national team friendly that finished in a 5-1 win for the reigning Olympic Games champions, with Adrianna Leon coming on for the last half hour and scoring twice, along with singles by Jess Fleming, Christine Sinclair and Nichelle Prince, while Janine Beckie added two assists. Football Ferns captain Ria Percival scored a late consolation from the penalty spot. In the second game Canada won 1-0 in Montreal on October 26 with Adrianna Leon scoring her third goal in two games in the 16th minute.

New Zealand's new head coach Jitka Klimková named her first squad to take on Olympic champions Canada and had six players—Amelia Abbott, Aniela Jensen, Ava Collins, Jacqui Hand, Sam Tawharu and Tahlia Herman-Watt—called up for the first time. The Canada tour also signals a return for Hannah Blake and Maggie Jenkins, who made their debuts in November 2017 against Thailand. All eight play in the U.S. college system (with 11 in total in the squad), which was an opportunity to see them as players from Australia and New Zealand were not called in due to MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine) considerations. Centurion Rosie White, who has returned to training at club OL Reign, has been named in the squad, after missing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to illness. Abby Erceg chose to stay with her crisis torn club side North Carolina Courage (see: The Week in Women's Football: The NWSL Coaching scandal and its impact on the league - Tribal Football).

A number of the Britain-based Ferns returned to camp on fine runs of form this season. Ria Percival has twice been named in the Barclays FAWSL team of the week so far in 2021-22, while her London-based club Tottenham Hotspur is currently in third. Meikayla Moore's Liverpool FC have similarly started the season strongly, going into the international break second on the FA Women's Championship table as they chase promotion. Olivia Chance has settled in nicely with Celtic FC in Scotland, after scoring three goals and notched up three assists in her first season; Celtic are third in the Scottish Women's Premier League on goal difference.

22-player Football Ferns squad:

Victoria Esson, Avaldsnes IL, Norway 3/0

Anna Leat, West Ham United, England 5/0

Erin Nayler, Unattached 73/0 (she was with Reading in England last season)

CJ Bott, Vålerenga, Norway 27/1

Katie Bowen, Kansas City, United States 73/3

Tahlia Herman-Watt, Arizona State University, United States 0/0*

Meikayla Moore, Liverpool FC, England 44/3

Ali Riley, Orlando Pride, United States 137/1

Amelia Abbott, University of Texas, United States 0/0*

Hannah Blake, University of Michigan, United States 2/0

Daisy Cleverley, Georgetown University, United States 12/2

Betsy Hassett, Stjarnan, Iceland 123/13

Aniela Jensen, University of the Pacific, United States 0/0*

Ria Percival, Tottenham Hotspur, England 153/14

Emma Rolston, Arna-Bjørnar, Norway 6/6

Olivia Chance, Celtic FC, Scotland 22/1

Ava Collins, St John's University, United States 0/0*

Jacqui Hand, Colorado College, United States 0/0*

Maggie Jenkins, University of Central Florida, United States 1/0

Gabi Rennie, Indiana University, United States 3/1

Sam Tawharu, University of Iowa, United States 0/0*

Rosie White, OL Reign, United States 109/24
*Debut Football Ferns squad

Canada Soccer has confirmed that all 22 Olympic champions were called into the upcoming Women's National Team Celebration Tour for the October international window in Ottawa and Montréal. Canada's 22 Olympic champions are: Captain Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie, Kadeisha Buchanan, Gabrielle Carle, Allysha Chapman, Jessie Fleming, Vanessa Gilles, Julia Grosso, Jordyn Huitema, Stephanie Labbé, Ashley Lawrence, Adriana Leon, Erin McLeod, Nichelle Prince, Quinn, Jayde Riviere, Deanne Rose, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Kailen Sheridan, Evelyne Viens, and Shelina Zadorsky.

Alongside the 22 Olympic champions, four training players were called in for the international camp: Marie Levasseur from Fleury FC in France, Victoria Pickett from Kansas City NWSL, Jade Rose from Harvard University and Nikayla Small from Wake Forest University.

#CANWNTGold Tour Roster
1- GK- Stephanie Labbé | FRA / Paris Saint-Germain FC
2- FB- Allysha Chapman | USA / Houston Dash
3- CB- Kadeisha Buchanan | FRA / FCF Olympique Lyonnais
4- CB- Shelina Zadorsky | ENG / Tottenham Hotspur
5- M- Quinn | USA / OL Reign
6- F- Deanne Rose | USA / University of Florida
7- M- Julia Grosso | CAN / University of Texas at Austin
8- FB- Jayde Riviere | USA / University of Michigan
9- F- Adriana Leon | ENG / West Ham United FC
10- FB- Ashley Lawrence | FRA / Paris Saint-Germain
11- M- Desiree Scott | USA / Kansas City
12- F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC
13- F- Evelyne Viens | USA / NJ/NY Gotham FC
14- CB- Vanessa Gilles | FRA / FC Girondins de Bordeaux
15- F- Nichelle Prince | USA / Houston Dash
16- F- Janine Beckie | ENG / Manchester City FC
17- M- Jessie Fleming | ENG / Chelsea FC
18- GK- Kailen Sheridan | USA / NJ/NY Gotham FC
19- F- Jordyn Huitema | FRA / Paris Saint-Germain
20- M- Sophie Schmidt | USA / Houston Dash
21- M- Gabrielle Carle | USA / Florida State University
22- GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Orlando Pride
CB- Jade Rose | USA / Harvard University
M- Victoria Pickett | USA / Kansas City
M- Nikayla Small | USA / Wake Forest University
F- Marie Levasseur | FRA / Fleury FC



CONCACAF VS. AFC Friendlies

The U.S. hosted Korea Republic in two matches during the October international window, tying the first match at home on October 21, 2021 (0-0) in front of a sellout crowd of 18.467 at Children's Mercy Park—the home of MLS side Sporting Kansas City and where the Kansas City NWSL team is moving to for the 2022 season. The U.S. retained their home unbeaten string of 61 matches but their 22 game home winning streak was ended, which was the second longest in team history. Korea Republic goalkeeper Youngguel Yoon was outstanding in goal and was of critical importance in the tie for the Colin Bell-coached team. The Americans outshot Korea 19-8 with 8 shots on goal to only 1 for the visitors.

The game was a homecoming of sorts for U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, who moved from his native North Macedonia in 2000 to play indoor soccer with the Kansas City Comets and then became a coach, first with the Comets and then with women's professional soccer when the Comets' owners started FC Kansas City in 2013, the NWSL's first season. Andonovski quickly made a name for himself in the NWSL, leading FC Kansas City to league titles in 2014 and 2015 and stepping down from his role with the Comets in 2016. The match also coincided with FIFA's World Cup 2026 inspection tour of Kansas City, and Andonovski is a big supporter of Kansas City soccer, which has hosted CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup Final matches in the past and is a strong women's and men's soccer market.

In the second match in St. Paul on October 26 in front of 18.115 fans on a cold night, the U.S. broke loose for a 6-0 win, with three goals coming in the last 5 minutes; Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe each had a goal and an assist. The U.S. led in shots (29 vs. 2), shots on goal (13 vs. 1) and corner kicks (8 vs. 0). The USA remains unbeaten in their 15 all-time meetings against Korea Republic, owning an 11-4-0 (W-D-L) record in the overall series that dates back to 1997. The game was also Carli Lloyd's (39) final game for the U.S. national team and she is the second-most capped player in world football history with 316 games played—behind fellow American Kristine Lilly (354)—and third most goals in USWNT history with 134, behind Abby Wambach with 184 and Mia Hamm on 158 (fourth all-time in world history—with Canadian international Christine Sinclair the all-time leader with 188). Lloyd scored the winning goal in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Game Final Wins and a historic hat-trick in the 2015 WWC Final in Vancouver.

U.S. Soccer is currently working on finalizing a November trip to Australia for the USWNT that would feature two matches in and around Sydney on November 27 and 30 that would be played under strict COVID-19 protocols, provided proper approvals from the Australia government are in place to allow the U.S. team to enter the country and train and play in a highly controlled environment. More information on the possible confirmation of these matches will hopefully be available soon.

Forward Megan Rapinoe returned to the roster for the Korea Republic matches after missing the September games due to injury, and while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and midfielders Samantha Mewis and Julie Ertz joined the camp they were not yet ready to play as they continue to rehab from injuries. Forward Christen Press and defender Crystal Dunn opted out of the matches.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster by Position (Club; Caps/Goals) – October Matches vs. Korea Republic:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 6), Adrianna Franch (Kansas City NWSL; 9)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Houston Dash; 76/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 41/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville; 4/0), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 36/0), Kelley O'Hara (Washington Spirit; 147/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 195/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 60/0)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 104/23), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 64/16), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 10/3), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 30/4), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 19/2)

FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath (Arsenal, ENG; 179/36), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 314/134), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 188/114), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 65/18), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 185/61), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 8/1), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 42/13)

For Korea Republic their side was entirely domestic-based except for their English-based trio of midfielders: Cho So-hyun (Tottenham), Ji So-yun (Chelsea) and Lee Geum-min (Brighton & Hove Albion).

KOREA REPUBLIC DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Younggeul YOON (Gyeongju KHNP), 18-Jungmi KIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 19-Gaae KANG (Sejong Sportstoto)

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Hyojoo CHOO (Suwon UDC), 4-Sohee LEE (Hwacheon KSPO), 3-Yeonga JEONG (Gyeongju KHNP), 5-Hyeji HONG (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 6-Seonjoo LIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 7-Hyeri KIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 16-Selgi JANG (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 20-Hahnul KWON (Boeun Sangmu)

MIDFIELDERS (8): 8-Sohyun CHO (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), 9-Minji YEO (Gyeongju KHNP), 10-Soyun JI (Chelsea FC, ENG), 13-Geummin LEE (Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, ENG), 15-Yeeun PARK (Gyeongju KHNP), 17-Youngju LEE (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 21-Seongmi KIM (Sejong Sportstoto), 22-Jeongmin LEE (Boeun Sangmu)

FORWARDS (4): 11-Yuri CHOE (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 12-Hwayeon SON (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 14-Jiyoun SEO (Gyeongju KHNP), 23-Mijin CHO (Korea University)


WOMEN'S AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS QUALIFIERS

Last week we looked extensively at the first leg ties in the WAFCON—which doubles as the 2023 Women's World Cup African Football Confederation qualifiers (see:The Week in Women's Football: African Champions League; COSAFA; DR Congo controversy - Tribal Football). The second legs gave us some few interesting results which we will highlight along with all of the second leg and aggregate score results below.

Namibia's Brave Gladiators eliminated Tanzania 5-3 on aggregate after with a 3-2 home victory (held at Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa) on October 23. Zenatha Coleman, who plays in Spain with Seville, scored a hat-trick in the second leg to end up with 5 goals for Namibia across the two legs.

Ghana defeated Nigeria 1-0 in their home leg in Accra on October 24 but it wasn't enough to haul Nigeria back from their 2-0 home first leg win on October 20 when. Princella Adubea (22), who plays in Spain with Racing Santander, broke the deadlock by firing home a cross from Portia Boakye (32)—who is in her fourth season with Djurgarden of Sweden, after also playing in Turkey and Hungary—two minutes into the second half. Moments after the hour mark, Ghana suffered a major setback as they were reduced to ten women when captain Boakye was sent off after picking her second yellow card on the match for a poor challenge on Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona). Minutes later, Nigeria was also reduced to ten players as Glory Ogbonna (22)—who is with Umea of Sweden—was sent off for a rough tackle. Ghana will now have to wait for the 2027 Women's World Cup Qualifiers to make their first WWC since 2007 in China.

Cameroon secured a difficult 2-0 win over the Central African Republic on October 24 in their second leg tie to progress to the second round of the TotalEnergies Women's Africa Cup of Nations. The breakthrough eventually came for the frustrated hosts in the 69th minute through substitute Grace Ngock Yango's (Fluery 91 in France) powerful strike. Cameroon added a late goal from a free kick just before the final whistle at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde and advanced 3-0 on aggregate.

In Bahir Dar, Ethiopia crashed out of the qualifiers after a 2-1 penalty shootout loss to Uganda despite a 2-0 victory in the second leg at their International Stadium. The Ugandans travelled to Ethiopia with a 2-0 first leg advantage but first half goals from Senaf Wakuma (who won the league's Top Player and Golden Boot in 2019 in helping Adama win its first ever Ethiopian league title) and Loza Abera (Nigd Bank in Addis Ababa after short spells in Sweden and Malta and is the all-time leading goalscorer in the Ethiopian Women's Premier League with over 200 goals) helped Ethiopia tie the leg 2-2 on aggregate and take it to penalties. The Crested Cranes advanced 2-1 on penalties as the Uganda goalkeeper Ruth Aturo (UCU Lady Cardinals at home) saved two Ethiopian attempts, with another two shots from Ethiopia hitting the post. Uganda will battle Kenya in February for a Finals berth.

At Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia edged their COSAFA rivals Malawi to a spot in the second round of the qualifiers after a 3-2 win on October 26. After a 1-1 first leg draw in Lilongwe Rachael Kundananji's (SD Eibar of Spain) brace and Lushomo Mweemba's (Green Buffalos) strike helped the Copper Queens finish off the Malawians despite Asimenye Simwaka (Topic) and Wezzie Mvula's (DD Sunshine) goals.

Flora Bouyi's second half strike gave Gabon a 1-0 win over Congo in Libreville to progress to the next stage on away goals, after a 2-1 first leg loss against Congo for a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.

A hat trick from Nguenar Ndiaye (AS Dakar Sacre Coeur—who just narrowly missed qualifying for next month's African Women's Champions League Finals at the regional level) led home side Senegal past Liberia 6-0 at the Stade Lat Dior in Thies on October 26, to take the tie 8-1 and will face Guinea in the second round.

Meriem Houij (Atasehir Belediyespor of Turkey) scored the only goal late in the match for Tunisia in their 1-0 second leg win at home over Egypt on October 26 to take the tie 7-2 on aggregate. Tunisia will next face Equatorial Guinea, who won on a walkover over DR Congo, who did not appear for their first leg match.

Tunisia's starting lineup was heavily based with players from clubs abroad: with three from France, one from the Netherlands, one from the Czech Republic, one from Turkey, one with a U.S. college, two who play in Jordan, one from the United Arab Emirates and one who plays in Tunisia. Imen Troudi, who TribalFootball.com interviewed a few years ago when she played in Iceland, is still a key player for the national team at 32 (see below).


May be an image of ‎4 people and ‎text that says '‎#AFCONWOMENQ vs. Pages: Les Talents Tunisiens & تونس النسائية القدم كرة SPORTS STUDIO L. Maknoun OSNY S. Ellouzi E.Rotterdam H. Kaabachi ASJ Soyaux I. Troudi Abu Dhabi GMAssLOWELL Khammar UMASS S. Aouni Amman C. Lamti Slavia P. C c. Abbassi ASBH © Ayadi Amman R. Aouina Thonon Évian S. Jebrani Fatih Vatan #LINEUP11‎'‎‎

In view of the current political situation in Sudan, CAF postponed second leg qualifier in Khartoum for Sudan against Algeria on October 26, despite the latter having a nearly unsurmountable 14-0 lead from the first leg.

CAF has received correspondence from Sao Tome e Principe Football Federation indicating their intention to withdraw from their second leg away against Togo in Lome, after losing 5-0 in Sao Tome on October 22.




Second Leg WAFCON Matches

October 23, 2021

South Sudan vs. Kenya (1-7; 1-15 on aggregate)

Namibia vs. Tanzania (3-2; 5-3)

October 24, 2021

Cameroon vs. Central Africa (2-0; 3-0)

Guinea vs. Mali (0-2; 2-4)

Benin vs. Burkina Faso (1-3; 2-5)

Ghana vs. Nigeria (1-0; 1-2)

October 25, 2021

Cote d'Ivoire vs. Niger (11-0; 20-0)

Gambia vs. Sierra Leone (1-1; 3-1)

October 26, 2021

Ethiopia vs. Uganda (2-2; 2-2 (1-2 on penalty kicks)

Burundi vs. Eritrea (1-0; 6-0)

Zambia vs. Malawi (3-2; 4-3)

Eswatini vs. Zimbabwe (0-3; 1-6)

Botswana vs. Angola (2-0; 7-1)

14h00: South Africa vs. Mozambique (6-0; 13-0)

Tunisia vs. Egypt (1-0; 7-2)

Gabon vs. Congo (1-0; 2-2—Gabon advanced on away goals rule)

Togo vs. Sao Tome e. Principe (Cancelled; 5-0)

Mauritania vs. Guinea-Bissau (0-1; 0-2)

Sudan vs. Algeria (Postponed; 0-14 after one leg)

Senegal vs. Liberia (6-0; 8-1)

* Djibouti and Equatorial Guinea qualified for the next round


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 yours copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey


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