We are now just six days away from the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and soon the camaraderie that has been so prevalent throughout the build up will take a back seat to the competition itself with the twenty four competing nations looking to show the world exactly what women’s football is all about.
As well as hundreds of articles focusing on the history of the women’s game and the battles for recognition that have been fought time and time again there are also more previews – official or otherwise – than ever before. In fact I recently previewed the Scotland squad for PureFitbaw as they make their debut at this year’s tournament but what about the other teams, the host country, the players to watch and where the games are being played? How do you cover everything from a tournament that will have on show 552 players competing in 52 games across nine cities with just six days to go before it all begins? The answer is, particularly within the confines of a full time non-football writing job, you can’t, but I have a solution.
Ladies and gentlemen I bring to you the Got, Got, Need to Know World Cup Preview. Six days, six packs of five stickers and 30 unique stories about this summer’s tournament with all the content dictated by the opening of a single pack of five across each of the six days up to Friday June 7th and the opener between France and South Korea.
So without much further ado, let’s crack into pack one purchased at the WH Smith in Glasgow Central Station after three pints on a rainy Friday night.
Sticker 1: Marlo Sweatman, Jamiaca
American born midfielder Sweatman will be found patrolling the centre circle for the Reggae Girlz as they make their World Cup debut at this year’s tournament. Like many of the players to be representing the Caribbean nation she has come through the American collegiate system, starting her career at the Florida State Seminoles before a two year spell with the University of Oregon Ducks. She is currently playing in Hungary for top flight Szent Mihaly after a season in the Netherlands with PEC Zwolle. The 15 times capped midfielder – who made her debut in 2018 – will be one of the players Head Coach Jean Nelson will look to combine with talisman Khadija “Bunny” Shaw in their quest for a World Cup upset in what will be a challenging group.
Sticker 2: Jennifer Hermoso, Spain
Atletico Madrid attacker “Jenni” goes to France as Spain’s most potent attacking threat having scored 27 goals in 67 international appearances to date. Whilst she started her career at Las Rojiblancas it was her spell with Catalan rivals Barcelona that really brought the attacking midfielder-come-shadow striker to the fore where she scored 77 goals in just 90 games. She returned to Cerro del Espino after a spell in France with PSG and was the top goalscorer in the 2018/19 Primera Division as her 23 goals helped Atleti to a 4th Primera title. In a side that many will have down as dangerous outsiders the form of Hermoso, who scored seven goals in qualifying, will most likely prove to be key in how successful Spain are in their progression.
Sticker 3: “Dare to Shine”
No international tournament whether it be in football or monkey tennis can commence in the digital age without a hashtaggable slogan and this summer’s Women’s World Cup is no different. The words “Dare to Shine” were unveiled back in September 2017 along with the tournament emblem, according to FIFA the slogan is designed to “reflect the development of football, especially women’s football”. When asked for her interpretation of the slogan in December 2018, former German international Celia Sasic said the phrase signified “a chance to become really exceptional and special.” whilst Brazilian legend Marta, perhaps competing at her last tournament, said, “In life, you need to be able to take risks. You have to believe and not be afraid of making mistakes, if you really want to shine.” One way or another be prepared to see lots of references to these three words over the coming weeks.
Sticker 4: Caitlin Foord, Australia
In a tournament seemingly littered with dark horses, Australia are perhaps the ones closest to being more than that as a result of continual progression since The Matildas World Cup debut in 2007. One of the constant figures, and key factors in this progress, has been the versatile Foord who at 24 has already amassed 71 caps for her country as well as racking a number of domestic honours including this season’s W-League title with Sydney FC. The 2016 Asian Player of the Year also has the distinction of being Australia’s youngest ever World Cup representative when at the age of 16 she took to the field against Brazil during the group stages of the 2011 tournament. Now a key member of the squad the right sided player has scored against both Argentina and the United States in the build up to her sides opener against Italy.
Sticker 5: Scotland, BADGE SHINY!
Sometimes fate allows you to pull out the sticker you had been hoping for at just the right time. I had already burned through ten packs before starting on this mini-project and in that time I had yet to be rewarded for my fiscal flamboyance with a single Scottish sticker. So this morning, to see my nation’s crest gleaming from the edges as I got to the end of this pack reveal was indeed a joy to behold. The side currently ranked 20th in the world come in to the tournament with a determination to prove that they are not in France to just make up the numbers and have every right to believe they can make a mark after topping their qualifying group in dramatic final game fashion. The midfield trio of Kim Little, Caroline Weir and Erin Cuthbert arguably match up with the best the tournament has to offer, with 20 year old Cuthbert in particular winning new admirers at home and abroad after stunning goals for club and country towards the end of this season with her long range effort in Scotland’s 3-2 win against Jamaica becoming a social media sensation. Anyone who was part of the Scottish record 18,555 crowd at Hampden for the squad’s World Cup send off will have left with hope that Shelley Kerr’s side could just maybe do something special with the 1-0 victory over Brazil in April adding more weight to the idea that it may very well being the case.
Packs Opened: 1
Join me tomorrow for the second instalment of the Got, Got, Need to Know Women’s World Cup Preview.