Upstart England sits atop Group D with 2015 runner-up Japan
The teams playing in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, with ranking, qualification, appearances, coach, players to watch, facts to know and the state of women’s soccer in each nation:
FIFA RANKING: 3
QUALIFICATION: Won Group 1 of UEFA qualification.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 1995 (6th), 2007 (7th), 2011 (5th), 2015 (3rd), 2019.
COACH: Phil Neville
KEY PLAYERS: Jodie Taylor, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton.
WHAT TO KNOW: There were a lot of questions when Neville took over the team from Mark Sampson, who was fired because of inappropriate conduct. Neville, the former England fullback, had never coached a women’s team and most of his experience was as an assistant. But England has fared well under Neville and won the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, a tournament that included the United States, Japan and Brazil. Celebrities, including David Beckham and Prince William, announced the players on the team’s roster for the World Cup. Nickname is the Lionesses. Steph Houghton is the team’s captain.
STATE OF THE GAME: There are 11 teams in the professional Women’s Super League, the top tier of the women’s game. The league recently struck a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Barclays.
FIFA RANKING: 20
QUALIFICATION: Won Group 2 of UEFA Qualification.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 2019
COACH: Shelley Kerr
KEY PLAYERS: Kim Little, Rachel Corsie, Jennifer Beattie.
WHAT TO KNOW: Scotland is making its World Cup debut in France. The team made its debut in the Euros in 2017. Kim Little won the National Women’s Soccer League Most Valuable Player and Golden Boot awards in 2014 while playing for the Seattle Reign. She now plays for Arsenal. Shelley Kerr is a former center back. As a coach, she led Arsenal to back-to-back FA Women’s Cup titles in 2013 and 2014. Scotland and England wound up in the same group in France and will play on June 9 in Nice. Rachel Corsie is the team’s captain.
STATE OF THE GAME: In 2013, the federation pledged to invest more in women’s football, and the recent achievements of the team have been seen as the effort’s result.
FIFA RANKING: 37
QUALIFICATION: Defeated Panama in intercontinental playoff after fourth-place finish in the CONCACAF qualification tournament.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 2003 (16th), 2007 (16th), 2019.
COACH: Carlos Borrello
KEY PLAYERS: Sole Jaimes, Estefania Banini, Belén Potassa.
WHAT TO KNOW: Nickname is La Albiceleste. Argentina has made six appearances in the Copa America Femenina, winning it in 2006. Finished third in the Copa America, which earned the team the two-legged playoff with Panama to qualify for its first World Cup in 12 years. Argentina lost all three of its matches at the first Cup of Nations in Australia this spring. Carlos Borrello, reappointed as coach in 2017, was also coach of the team for its previous World Cup appearances. Estefania Banini is the team’s captain.
STATE OF THE GAME: National team players threatened to strike in 2017 over conditions. Macarena Sanchez, an Argentine club player, took legal action against her team to be recognized as an employee. In April, she signed one of the first pro contracts in the country’s women’s league.
FIFA RANKING: 7
QUALIFICATION: Won the 2018 AFC Women’s Cup.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 1991 (12th), 1995 (8th), 1999 (13th), 2003 (10th), 2007 (10th), 2011 (Champions), 2015 (Runner-Up), 2019.
COACH: Asako Takakura
KEY PLAYERS: Rumi Utsugi, Kumi Yokoyama, Saki Kumagai.
WHAT TO KNOW: Asako Takakura took over as coach in 2016, replacing Norio Sasaki, who took the team to two World Cup finals, including the title in 2011 when Japan beat the United Sates on penalties. The U.S. team got revenge with a 5-2 victory in the final in Canada in 2015. The team’s nickname is Nadeshiko. Japan won silver at the 2012 Olympics in London. Rumi Utsugi plays for the Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League in the U.S.
STATE OF THE GAME: Japan has a robust three-tiered women’s professional league.