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The Week in Women's Football: Van Egmond makes West Ham loan; Valencia sign Finnish star Salmi; Petkova and Watford join forces;

This week, we review some more interesting club moves among top international players around the world for the 2020-21 season, with particular focus on Nigerian and Ugandan players in Europe, as well as two recent moves by New Zealand internationals to England's FA WSL.


One of only two remaining Australian international players on NWSL rosters—midfielder Emily van Egmond—goes on loan to West Ham United

Emily van Egmond, the Australian Matilda midfielder, has been loaned to West Ham United in England's FA WSL by the Orlando Pride of the NWSL until December of 2020. Earlier in the month, her club and national teammate Alanna Kennedy was sent on loan to Tottenham Hotspurs of the Super League. Van Egmond only played 8 games last season with one assist for the Pride, due to Women's World Cup duty in France and an ankle injury that ended her season. She recovered sufficiently last winter to help Melbourne City win the W-League Premiership and Grand Final. She scored 6 goals with 1 assist, just missing tying for the Golden Boot in the W-League lead by one goal. She first came to Orlando in 2018 and previously played in the NWSL in 2013 with Seattle and 2014 with Chicago, the latter for which she had 2 goals and 2 assists in 10 games. She has also played club ball in Germany and Denmark.


More Club Transfers by International Players from Around the World for 2020-21

We look at some more of the recent off-season moves by internationals around the world, most of which involved European clubs continued from two weeks ago: (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-nwsl-returns-college-football-suspended-for-2020-uws-moves-abroad-4338896).


UEFA European Football Confederation

Iina Reetta Salmi is a Finnish international midfielder who signed with Spanish Primera División club Valencia CF for the 2020-21 season. She previously played for PK-35 Vantaa and HJK of the Naisten Liiga at home, FC Rosengård in Sweden and with AFC Ajax Vrouwen in the Netherlands (Amsterdam) during the past two seasons. Salmi made her debut for Finland's women's national team in March 2016 against Wales. She was also a member of the Finnish squad at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada and played at the 2013 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship in Wales.

Sini Laaksonen (24) is a Finnish U-20 international who also played at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. She played in the States at Nova University and the University of Massachusetts; she has recently transferred to Santa Teresa in the top tier in Spain, having come from Ferenecvarosi TC in Budapest, Hungary, where she did not see any action in the 2019-20 COVID-19 shortened season.

A third Finnish player moving clubs within Europe is Nora Heroum (26), who is a veteran Finnish international and has played in Italy since 2017 with Brescia and Milan, but is now bound for the southern coast of England to join Brighton and Hove Albion in the English FA WSL. She has previously played with clubs at home and with Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark.

Forward Ivana Fuso (19) was born in Brazil but is a German youth international and has signed a two year contract with Manchester United, with an option for a third year. She was with Freiburg's youth and senior set up in Germany for two years before playing with FC Basel in Switzerland for a season.

A another new Manchester United signing is full back Ona Batll (21), who moves to the FA WSL after two seasons at Levante; she has been capped at multiple youth and the senior level by Spain and Catalonia.

Katerina Svitkova (24) is a Czech Republic international who has been a long-time Slavia Prague mainstay, winning 4 league titles at the club; the productive scoring forward is going to West Ham United. Twice she led the Czech League in scoring and three times was named her nation's Footballer of the Year (2015, 2018 and 2019). She could be a very interesting pickup by the Hammers for the coming season.

Karin Muya is an English youth international who came up through the Chelsea Academy system and who played since January at Orobica Calcio Bergamo and is now with San Marino in Italy. She previously played a half season at Thonon Evian Grand Geneve in Switzerland and collegiately in the States at Notre Dame University in Indiana (the first English import at the national Catholic University that typically does not import international players other than a few Canadians).

PSV Eindhoven has announced the signing of Dutch international and European goalkeeper of the year Sari van Veenendaal from Atletico Madrid for the 2020-21 season. She was named the best goalkeeper at EURO 2017 as the Netherlands won the title on home soil before also winning the Golden Glove award at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, where her team finished runners-up to the American side. She recently announced that she would like to return to the Netherlands because her partner was there and because she likes to be with her family. Speaking to the PSV website, van Veenendaal explained "I am happy to return to the Netherlands and will certainly not come here to take a step back. PSV is a club that has continued to make progress in its development in recent years and has sporty ambitions that appeal to me personally….I want to help the talented team that is already there with my experience and at the same time remain eager to learn and motivated to become better." Van Veenendaal left FC Twente for Arsenal in 2015 and after four years in North London and helping the Gunners win the Women's Super League title and FA Cup in 2018-19, she made the move to Atlético Madrid. At home she won the league title and the KNVB cup with FC Twente and thus has had success back in her homeland in the past and hopes to achieve more with PSV in the league as well as in the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League campaign.

German goalkeeper Melina Loeck (20) is going to Kristianstad in Sweden on loan for 2020 after not playing for Wolfsburg's first team in the previous two seasons for the two-time reigning league and cup champions.

Vivien Beil is a German youth international midfielder who signed in January for Napoli Femminile of the Italian Serie B, which won promotion to Serie Afor the 2020-21 season. She played collegiately at the University of Connecticut after starting at the University of Maine. In 2012, helped lead Germany to a European Championship and fourth place finish at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Cristina Carp (23) is a Romanian international forward who has moved to Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark from Bari in Italy. Before her move to Italy she won 5 consecutive Liga 1 Feminin titles at home with Olimpia Cluj.

Simona Petkova (27) is a Bulgarian international and played last season with Serie A side Bari but has moved to play with the San Marino Academy Club in of Sammarinese, Italy for the 2020-21 season. Petkova has played in England in the past, first for Leeds Ladies in the English 4th division, but half a year later joined Watford for the 2017-18 season. After one season with the Bees, she signed a professional contract in Italy, first with Barry and then Empoli. Prior to leaving Bulgaria she won three titles at home with FC NSA Sofia. After the end of her sports career Simona wants to create her own training methodological system for implementation in Bulgaria in order to improve grassroots soccer there. She explained to BNR Radio Bulgaria in March of this year about her future ambitions, "It's not just about money as we are actually lacking people with a passion who want to achieve results. We could change many things like the way practice take place, the atmosphere of work and many other things, but we are always looking for excuses and constantly hear that we have no money, no conditions, etc. The question is what we could do with the conditions we have. In general, our football lacks any focus and goal. On the other hand we are waiting for fast results but in football, just like in life, one should work for a long time to expect actual results as they do not come as a gift."

Simona Petkova with her Watford Bees jersey. (Photo courtesy of Watford Women's Football.)

Dominika Škorvánková (28) is a Slovakian international footballmidfielder who moved to Montpellier in the French Division 1 after playing with Bayern Munich for the past three seasons. She has also played for Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia's First League and them moved abroad in 2012, first with SV Neulengbach in Austria's ÖFB-Frauenliga and then to SC Sand and later Bayern Munich in the Frauen Bundesliga. She has been named the best player in Slovakia 9 times, including 8 consecutive years from 2012 through 2019.

Gabriela Matouskova (28) is a Czech Republic international who moved to Bari in Italy this season after 5 years at Sparta Prague, where she won two league titles.

Bruna Tavares is from Brazil but went to college in the States at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. She played at Madrid CFF for the past year and has joined Clube Deportivo Pozoalbense in the Spanish Second Division (South) on a full time contract this summer.



Confederation of African Football

CD Pozoalbense of Spain (see Bruna Taveres above) last month announced a working agreement with Nigerian club side Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt, the reigning champions in the Nigerian Women's Premier League and six time league champions. As part of the new deal, midfielder Evelyn Nwabuoku (34) and goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi (33) joined the Spanish side from Rivers Angels for the 2020-21 season. Nwabuoku has played abroad in the past in Kazakhstan with BIIK Kazygurt as well as in Sweden's second tier Elitettan with Ostersunds and in France's top flight with Guingamp; she played with her country at the past two Women's World Cups. Oluehi spent the 2016 season abroad in Norway with Medkila IL in the top flight (now the team is in the second division in Norway) and previously played in Belarus with Bobruichanka. The goalkeeper was with the Super Eagles at the 2019 WWC in France. Pozoalbense will support women's football development in Rivers State through providing kits and other equipment.

Marie Aurelle Awona (27) is a Cameroonian international defender who signed with Stade de Reims in the French Division 1 Féminine this season. She was born in Cameroon but has lived in France since the age of 6. She was a part of the France U-19 national team, but chose to represent Cameroon at the senior level. She was a member of the historic 2015 FIFA WWC squad that made the round of 16. She played at Dijon for two seasons and six at Soyaux but only appeared in 3 games at Madrid CFF in the 2019-20 campaign which was shortened due to COVID-19.

Swedish Damallsvenskan club Vaxjo have secured the services of Nigerian international striker Ini Umotong on an 18-month deal, after leaving Brighton and Hove Albion Seagulls. Umotong (26) joined Brighton in 2017 after being spotted at Oxford United, where she finished the year as the WSL 2 top scorer, scoring 13 goals in 19 outings in 2016. During her three-year spell, the Super Falcon scored 19 goals in 59 games for Brighton, including the winner that sealed their 2020 FA Cup quarter-final berth for the first time since 1994. Umotong made her international debut for Nigeria against Mali in an African Games qualifier in 2015 and was part of the squad to the 2015 Women's World Cup but narrowly missed the final squad for France at the 2019 WWC. Previously, Umotong has played for Portsmouth in England and at Wright State in Ohio in the States. The Nigeria international will be the second African at Vaxjo as she teams up with Swedish-born Ugandan midfielder Violah Nambi, who joined the club early in 2019, with 3 goals in 13 games last season.

Umotong is the eighth Nigerian woman in the Swedish top flight this season, after Rosengard's Anam Imo, Pitea's Faith Micheal, Eskilstuna United duo Ngozi Okobi and Halimatu Ayinde, and Linkopings trio of Ebere Orji, Uchenna Kanu, and Chinaza Uchendu. Djurgarden also have South Africa's Linda Motlhalo and Ghana's Portia Boakye on their roster.

In Sweden's Second Division (Elitettan), Uganda's Ritah Kivumbi had scored five goals this season (tied for 20th) with her new club Mallbackens, where she plays with Nigerian international veteran Sarah Michael (30), who has played in the country since 2009, mostly with KIF Orebro and last season at Kvarnsveden in the Elitettan. Kivumbi previously played with Uganda Christian University (UCU) at home in the FUFA Women Elite League. Kivumbi spent four years at Vaxjo, beginning in 2016 when the club was in the Elitettan, but then was promoted to the Damallsvenskan for the 2018 season and remained there in 2019. Kivumbi signed until the end of the season. Kivumbi was part of the Uganda U-20 National team when they defeated South Sudan 22-0 on aggregate.

The others Crested Cranes national team members that are playing outside of Uganda—mostly at U.S. colleges—include: Jean Sseninde (Queen Park Rangers of the FA Women's National League Premier Division South in the third tier of England's women's football—now known as Hounslow W.F.C.—after spending one season with Charlton Athletic,) Viola Nambi (Vaxjo of Sweden—see above), Yudaya Nakayenze and Tracy Jones Akiror (who are both at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky after playing at Seminole State College in Central Florida), Sandra Nabweteme (Southwest Oklahoma State University, who has the all-time goal scoring record at the school with 76—surpassing Burkina Faso's Almata Rabo with 74) along with Joan Nakirya (Southwest Oklahoma State University) and Sandra Nantumbwe (Westcliff University in Irvine, California after one year at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Oklahoma).


CONCACAF (North America/Central America/Caribbean Football Confederation)

Daniela Cruz is a 29-year-old Costa Rican defender who had a short stint with Red Star Belgrade in 2015-16 and played 7 games last season for Espanyol in Spain but has gone back home to Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa for this new season. She played collegiately with the University of West Florida Argonauts in Pensacola. She played in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand (the inaugural event), 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany and 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada for her country's debut WWC as well as at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia.

Stephannie Blanco (19) is a defender with one Costa Rican cap, from the 2019 Pan American Games team, and is moving in the other direction, from Liga Deportiva Alajuelense in Costa Rica to Deportivo La Coruña in Spain's top flight. She is transferring with her LDA and Costa Rican international teammate and goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez. Bermudez had two previous seasons in Spain, in 2015-16 with Levante where she played in 15 games and was named to the League's Team of the Season, and then as a back-up with Valencia in 2017-18. She was a member of the Tica's 2015 Women's World Cup side after playing in the 2014 edition of the FIFA U-20 WWC in Canada.


OCEANIA (New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands)

Erin Nayler, New Zealand's international goalkeeper, has moved from Bordeaux in France to Reading in the FA WSL. Nayler helped New Zealand to a 1-0 friendly win over England in Brighton in June 2019, just before last year's Women's World Cup. Reading finished fifth last season and Naylor is an inspired addition. She played for New Zealand U-20's in the 2010 and 2012 U-20 WWC and in the 2015 and 2019 senior finals. She spent a month on contract in 2016 with Sky Blue FC but they released her before she appeared in any games, preferring Carolina Casey and Caroline Stanley, both of whom are no longer in the league and retired from the sport, with Casey going to Medical school and Stanley now an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa. Nayler played collegiately at Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

New Zealand international defender Rebekah Stott (27) has signed up with Brighton and Hove Albion for the 2020-21 FA WSL season. Stott was a member of the 2012 New Zealand Olympic Games Finals squad and the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cup squads. She played in the NWSL with the Seattle Reign and Sky Blue FC for 2 seasons and has played club ball in Germany and Norway. She won the Premiership and Grand Final with Melbourne City in the 2019-20 W-League in a very impressive season in the middle of the park. With City Stott has won four league titles in five seasons at the club as well as one title win with the Brisbane Roar in 2010-11, before a two year stint with Melbourne Victory, where the side made the semifinals in 2011-12 and fell in the Grand Final to Sydney FC in 2012-13. She will definitely bring a winning mentality to the Seagulls.


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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