England vs Sweden Preview

England vs Sweden Preview: The Bronze Medal Is Up For Grabs

There may not be a world title to fight for, but with England vs Sweden, the third and fourth place playoff, there’s a lot of pride and a sought-after bronze medal at stake.

Although the honour of calling themselves a World Cup finalist or world champion may have eluded England and Sweden this time, their campaigns, which have proven to be better than 20 other teams in the tournament, are still something to be proud of.

The English always knew the odds were slightly against them when they were drawn against defending champions the United States, but it didn’t stop them from believing in their ability to cause an upset and book their place in their first final.

Unfortunately for them, the dream wouldn’t be realised this year as the Americans showed why they’re the best team in the world and have lifted the trophy three times since 1991. Despite a strong display, that saw them finishing with a better possession percentage, it ended 2-1 in favour of the North Americans in what was a rollercoaster encounter. Read More

Germany vs Nigeria Preview

Germany vs Nigeria Preview: Die Nationalelf peaking at the right time?

The Germans will certainly be the first to admit the way they started the 2019 World Cup is mis-representative of the kind of team they are known to be. They kicked off their campaign against a fellow powerhouse in the 1999 finalists China and then followed that up with a meeting against Spain. So they can be forgiven for not being at their sharpest, but their handling of those encounters proved why they are two-time champions.

They made sure to show their true colours against tournament debutantes and relatively easy opposition, South Africa, in their final group match, sending a warning shot to those who may have dared to think they are anything like what their male counterparts were in Russia last year. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side sought to seal passage to the round of 16 in emphatic style and so they did with a 4-0 win over Banyana Banyana.

In true German style, the result was not owed to a select few players, the whole team made sure to play their parts effectively, with the proof showing in there being four different goal scorers in that match. Read More

Jamaica vs Australia

Jamaica vs Australia Preview: The round of 16 beckons for the Matildas.

We’ve reached that point in the competition where the permutations get scrutinised and broken down. Where anything less than a victory could see a team either miss out on a 100% record in the group stages and finishing top of their group or get knocked out. Its matchday three and a crucial matchday for two of the four nations in Group C.

Brazil and Australia are on the cusp of qualifying for the round of 16 and both sides are looking to seal their passage to the knockout stages without the need for strenuous calculation.

The South American heavyweights take on group leaders and the already-qualified and unbeaten Italians in Tuesday’s final group clash – an incredibly tough assignment for a team that does not have its fate entirely in its own hands. Meanwhile, the Matildas have it a little easier, they’re up against newcomers Jamaica, who’ve already collected two hidings from the Brazilians and Azzure.

Therefore, the Australians are expected to supply the Reggae Girls with another mean beating, to finish on a positive goal difference, but their biggest concern will be what Italy do in the corresponding match against the Selecao. Read More

South Africa vs China

South Africa vs China Preview: A defensive masterclass required

Very little was expected of World Cup debutantes South Africa, in their opening match against Spain, but they used that to their advantage in Le Havre on Saturday as they made the Spaniards sweat profusely for well over an hour.

Having made history already by qualifying, they sweetened things by scoring their first goal of the showpiece and it was none other than the best player on the African continent, Thembi Kgatlana, who netted a fine chip over the goalkeeper in the 25th minute.

The 23-year old forward’s celebrations told a story of a team that was intent on defying the odds, or at least go down trying, as she cupped her ear as though she was asking the naysayers “you were saying?”. Read More

Spain vs South Africa Preview

Spain vs South Africa Preview: The moment of truth for Banyana Banyana

26 years and one week after playing their very first official match, South Africa’s women’s national team will, for the first time, realise a dream only five other African nations have realised – playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

It has been a long and painful journey for women’s football in South Africa, but one that has grown and strengthened the beautiful game in the republic.

Banyana Banyana, as they are fondly known, have fallen agonisingly short of reaching the promised land on a number of occasions, most recently in 2014 where they lost to the Ivory Coast in the third and fourth place playoff of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, subsequently losing out on a spot in the showpiece alongside Nigeria and Cameroon.

The team has, however, tasted international football of the highest quality, with their involvement in the 2012 London Olympics under local man Joseph Mkhonza and the 2016 Rio Olympics under Dutch coach Vera Pauw. Read More