The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France will see twenty-four teams compete for the trophy this summer. Of that group, seven nations will enter their women into an 8th consecutive World cup and maintain their streak of appearing in every edition of the competition. That group includes all previous winners of the World Cup, led by the United States as three-time winners, the back to back champions of 2003 and 2007, Germany, and one time winners, Norway (1995) and Japan (2011).

Brazil, Nigeria and Sweden have also appeared in every single Women’s World Cup going all the way back to its first competition in 1991, without lifting the trophy. That group of perennials will be joined by four first time competitors: Chile, Jamaica, Scotland and South Africa. The Italian women will feel as if it is their first ever appearance, returning after a 20-year hiatus, having made their last appearance in 1999.

What might we expect from these new sides as they head to France this summer? With four of the six third-place teams advancing out of the group stage, a few of these teams will be looking to advance.

 

Chile

The Chileans qualified automatically for the World Cup through the 2018 Copa América Femenina, where they finished as runners up to Brazil. That finish matched the best finish the Chilean women have had in the competition as they also finished as runners up in 1991.

With a world ranking of 39th, Chile will face a tall task in getting out of a group that includes the defending champion, USA and the 9th ranked Swedes. Chile took on the Americans twice in 2018, losing a pair of friendlies by a combined score of 0-7. However, they will take some hope from a 3-2 victory over Australia(ranked 6th) in 2018 as well as a 1-1 draw with 20th ranked Scotland on 5 April of this year.

A path out of the group stage would likely require holding the US to a draw, a result against the Swedes and getting a strong result against 29th ranked Thailand.

 

Jamaica

Just reaching the World Cup is a major accomplishment for the Jamaican women’s team. They will enter the competition as the lowest ranked team participating as they are ranked 53rd, four spots behind South Africa. They join having come through a gruelling CONCACAF qualification and will represent the region alongside the giants of women’s football, the USA and Canada.

In order to qualify for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier competition, Jamaica had to first win the Carribean zone competition. This was a two group stage qualification event in which Jamaica topped their first-round group with two wins and draw and then topped the final round grouping by winning all four matches.

Jamaica cruised through the Carribean zone final round putting up 21 goals against only 2 conceded across the four matches. This earned them a berth in the full qualification competition. Seeded in group B, Jamaica won matches against both Costa Rica and Cuba, while falling to Canada. This left them second in the group and moved into the semi-finals to face the US who hammered them, 0-6.

From there, Jamaica moved into the third place game against Panama to decide the third automatic qualifier to the World Cup from CONCACAF. The loser faced a playoff with Argentina. Jamaica ultimately prevailed, in a shoot out. The Jamaicans will compete in group C against Australia, Brazil and Italy who are ranked 6th, 10th and 16th, respectively. It’s hard to imagine any level of success for them in France but any team qualifying for a major tournament out of the Carribean has to achieve quite a bit to get there.

 

Scotland

The highest ranked of the four newcomers, Scotland, will be hoping to make an impact on the tournament and move beyond the group stage. They come in ranked 20th and that gives them a higher ranking than seven other teams headed to the World Cup. It’s a promising position, however, they will have to contend with 3rd ranked England and 7th ranked Japan. They’ll certainly be looking for a result against the fourth entrant to group D, Argentina, who qualified via a playoff with Panama and are currently ranked 37th. Scotland is the only newcomer not ranked 4th in their group of four for the World Cup and would then be expected to come 3rd, can they do enough though to finish as one of the top four third-placed teams?

Qualifying as Group 2 winners out of the UEFA qualification tournament, Scotland had to hold off a stern challenge from 18th ranked Switzerland to capture the first position by two points, netting 21 to the Swiss’ 19. In eight qualification games, Scotland won seven and lost one (to the Swiss) and finished with a +12 goal difference.

This followed a similarly impressive qualification performance for EURO 2017 for Scotland, where they also won seven and lost one to finish second and qualify automatically for the tournament. At EURO 2017, they finished third on three points, including a loss to group winners, England.

They will go up against the English again at the World Cup, aim for a better result and see if a third-place finish at the World Cup gets them into the knockout stages.

 

South Africa

The South Africans are making their first trip to the World Cup in 2019 off the back of a second place finish at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations. They lost on penalties in the final to Nigeria, who captured their second consecutive Cup of Nations. South Africa came top of a four-team group with two wins and a draw and beat Mali, 2-0, to make the final and book a spot in France for this summer.

South Africa is becoming a more regular side at international tournaments of late, having appeared in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, their first two such appearances. In Africa, they have finished runners up at the Cup of Nations five times, including three times in the last six competitions going back to 2008.

The team has already played in seven matches this year, posting a 0-3-4 record. That included four games at the 2019 Cyprus Women’s Cup where they opened with a draw to Finland, who did not make the World Cup themselves, before dropping matches against North Korea, Czech Republic and Finland.

Like newcomers, Chile and Jamaica, the progression from the group stage look unlikely for the 49th ranked South Africans who must lineup against one of the tournament favourites, Germany, and the highly ranked sides of Spain and China. It will be a new level of competition for South Africa and could serve as another stepping stone on the path to being a more recognizable presence on the women’s football stage.

The Women’s World Cup begins on June 7 and runs through to the final on July 7.

 

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