Football: Women’s World Cup Group F

The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand kicks off on July 20. AFP Sport takes a detailed look at Group F:

FRANCE (FIFA ranking 5)

Coach: Herve Renard (FRA)

Star player: Kadidiatou Diani (unattached)

Best World Cup performance: Fourth place (2011)

France are in many ways the great underachievers of international women’s football. They have never won a major title and have made a nasty habit of falling short, going out of the last two World Cups in the quarter-finals and in the semi-finals of last year’s Euro.

Les Bleues are also recovering from a turbulent few months following the sacking of Corinne Diacre as coach in March.

Diacre was ditched after several leading players, including captain Wendie Renard and star forward Kadidiatou Diani, said they would no longer play under her.

She was replaced by Herve Renard, who led Saudi Arabia to a famous win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina at the men’s World Cup in Qatar.

The new coach’s task is complicated by injuries, with attacking stars Delphine Cascarino and Marie-Antoinette Katoto ruled out of the competition.

Nevertheless France have the quality to go far and the quarter-finals must be a minimum objective.

JAMAICA (FIFA ranking 43)

Coach: Lorne Donaldson (JAM)

Star player: Khadija Shaw (Manchester City/ENG)

Best World Cup performance: Group stage (2019)

Jamaica are back at the Women’s World Cup after losing all three group games on their debut in 2019. They qualified after finishing third at last year’s CONCACAF W Championship.

The Reggae Girlz will be doing very well to make it out of the group but they will at least hope to avoid losing every match this time.

In prolific Manchester City forward Khadija Shaw they have one of the very best in the business — she scored 20 goals in the English Women’s Super League in the season just finished.

Others ply their trade at a high level in Europe or the United States, but a dispute with their national federation over what the team called “extreme disorganisation” has clouded their preparations for the tournament.

BRAZIL (FIFA ranking 8)

Coach: Pia Sundhage (SWE)

Star player: Marta (Orlando Pride/USA)

Best World Cup performance: Runners-up (2007)

Brazil got to the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup and then reached the final in 2007, losing to Germany. However, they have faded as a force in recent years, going out of the last two World Cups in the last 16.

Nevertheless, the team that dominates in South America will hope to make an impact this year in what will be the last World Cup for Marta, the six-time world player of the year who is now aged 37.

From Tamires and Rafaelle at the back, to Geyse and Andressa Alves up front, Brazil have enough other top-level players to go beyond the first knockout round this time.

The team is coached by the veteran Swede Pia Sundhage, who twice led the United States to Olympic gold and won Olympic silver as coach of her home country.

PANAMA (FIFA ranking 52)

Coach: Ignacio Quintana (MEX)

Star player: Marta Cox (Pachuca/MEX)

Best World Cup performance: First appearance

Ranked 52nd in the world and appearing at their first Women’s World Cup, Panama are one of the rank outsiders in Australia and New Zealand.

The Canaleras, coached by the Mexican Ignacio Quintana, were the last team to qualify when they beat Paraguay 1-0 in the final inter-confederation play-off in New Zealand in February.

Midfielder Marta Cox was key in qualifying and will have an important role to play, while Panama also have high hopes for Riley Tanner, a United States-born forward with Washington Spirit who has opted to represent the land of her mother’s birth. Their first match is against Brazil in Adelaide on July 24.

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