2015 World Cup: Group C Preview

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It’s time for us to all get excited as the 2015 Women’s World Cup is about to kick off and we proudly present to you our Group C preview.

The Football Sack’s Group C preview

Japan

The tournament’s reigning champions will arrive in Canada full of confidence after becoming the first Asian team to win a football World Cup.

Road to Canada

Having won the World Cup in Germany four years ago qualification for the Japanese side was a must and the Nadeshiko did not disappoint. An undefeated run in the group stage of the 2014 AFC Asian Women’s Cup [leading to overall victory] guaranteed the Cup-holders a ticket to Canada, where they will be expected to go deep into the tournament.

Manager

Norio Sasaki will make his second World Cup appearance in charge of Japan, having coached the team to glory four years ago. His efforts earned him the AFC and FIFA Women’s coaching awards as well as the Japanese People’s Honour Award.

Key Player

Rumi Utsugi is a name people will become very familiar with as the World Cup rolls on. The midfielder has played in two World Cups and two Asian Cups and has recently signed with French heavyweights Montpellier, all at the youthful age of 26. Expect her to pull the strings in the centre of the pitch.

Fact you didn’t know

Sasaki and his side escaped discipline during the 2012 London Olympics for deliberately drawing a match to avoid travelling after the group stage. According to reports at the time, Sasaki took full responsibility for telling his team to avoid scoring and later apologised to fans.

Verdict

Expect to see this Japanese side right at the pointy end of proceedings in Canada. A strong showing in the knock-out stage is the minimum expectation.

Switzerland

The 2015 Women’s World Cup will be the first for Switzerland but don’t be fooled; this is a side that can cause an upset or two.

Road to Canada

The Swiss blasted their way into the World Cup with an undefeated qualifying run, conceding just one goal in ten games in the process. A solitary 1-1 draw against Denmark – the group’s strongest team on paper – was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect run to the Finals.

Manager

Martina Voss-Tecklenberg is making her World Cup managerial debut in Canada but as one of Germany’s most renowned footballers she has plenty of experience behind her. Her results in the qualifying stage are evidence enough that she has galvanised this Swiss outfit and her experience as a club coach in her homeland will hold her in good stead for the tournament.

Key Player

The Swiss defence will be reliant upon stalwart centre back Sandra Betschart. The 25-year-old has won over 60 caps for her country in eight years of service, and has appeared for clubs in Sweden and Germany as well as in her homeland.

Fact you didn’t know

The Swiss were the second highest goal scorers in European qualification and were equal-lowest on the concession count – not bad for a team that has never qualified!

Verdict

Switzerland is a dark horse in Canada. A supreme qualifying performance and some serious talent in the squad could see them upset the applecart just a touch. Expect them to progress with Japan from the group stage.

Cameroon

The Cameroonians are making their first appearance at a World Cup. Can the women from one of Africa’s most exciting football nations show up their highly rated competition?

Road to Canada

Cameroon qualified for the World Cup by finishing runners-up in the 2014 African Women’s Football Championship. This dragged them into a two-legged play-off with Senegal in which they found victory in the second leg.

Manager

Enow Ngachu prefers defence over attack and with a tough draw in his sights expect nothing less in Canada. The Cameroonian did lead his side to their first global tournament in London 2012 and has had counter-attacking success since then. Don’t look for fireworks, look for good ol’ fashion gritty football.

Key Player

Goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom is the key to Cameroonian success in Canada. One of the most experienced club players in the squad, her ability to keep out what ever gets past the staunch defence in front of her will make or break the campaign for her side. The goal difference she will try and maintain might get Cameroon through to the knock-out stage in third spot.

Fact you didn’t know

The Cameroonians were the first team other than the hosts to arrive in Canada for the tournament with coach Enow Ngachu saying he brought his squad here early to allow them to accustom to the conditions. The dry, suffocating heat of Africa is a long, long way from a mild Canadian summer.

Verdict

The Cameroonians will fight with Ecuador for third sport in the group and will hope to have a record good enough to get them through. It’s highly unlikely they’ll get past Japan and Switzerland.

Ecuador

Ecuador – the team no one thought would be in Canada – is a lightweight in the group and tournament on the whole but the unlikely run to the tournament has given the squad a belief that might just get the better of its opponents. Maybe,

Road to Canada

The way in which the Ecuadorians made it to Canada is quite spectacular. 12 months ago they were 125th in the world but after hosting and finishing third in the 2014 Copa America Femenina a play-off was earned against fan favourites Trinidad and Tobago. Victory followed with a debut World Cup the prize.

Manager

Vanessa Arauz is a unique figure amongst football managers in that she’s only 26. Managing her side at a global tournament at such a youthful age will be a challenge to her but it’s on the basis of these challenges that Ecuadorian women’s football seems to have been galvanised. She is also the first product of Ecuador’s football institute so she will be a gauge for the early success of the women’s game in the South American country.

Key Player

Giannina Lattanzio, a technically gifted forward, will be the barometer of her side during the tournament. Born in Italy and raised at Inter Milan, her possession based game will try and bring her colleagues into the action, a skill she learned in her debut season in Serie A. Without Lattanzio firing Ecuador’s struggles will become much greater.

Fact you didn’t know

Ecuador was nearly represented at the Copa America Femenina by a club side from capital Quinto but CONMEBOL ruled it out because they weren’t a national side.

The Verdict

It’ll be tough for the South Americans. A lack of experience and infrastructure make them the underdogs in the group by some margin but a win against Cameroon and respectable losses against Switzerland and Japan might just them through in third spot.

It’s highly unlikely.

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