VANCOUVER: Footballing giants Germany and USA continue their quest for a record third title on Friday when they meet France and China respectively in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals.
Top-ranked Germany, winners in 2003 and 2007, face an ambitious France in the largely French-speaking city of Montreal. The French seek their first major title after finishing fourth in Germany 2011 and the 2012 Olympics.
Germany coach Silvia Neid dismissed talks of her side being favourites after demolishing Sweden 4-1 in the last-16. “I’m not convinced of it yet,” she said. “France are ranked third and it won’t be easy. We know where we stand but we’re not yet world champions.”
Germany have won two titles, finishing as runners-up in 1995, and have won every Women’s Euro title since 1995.
But they were shocked in the 2011 World Cup at home when they equalled their worst-ever showing — losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Japan.
French midfielder Jessica Houara D’Hommeaux said ‘Les Bleues’ were out to stop the “steamroller.”
“Germany are a sports machine, a steamroller,” she said. “There’s USA and Germany and then everyone else. But we’re closing the gap and I really want people to talk more about France and the other teams. It’s good for women’s football.”
USA v China
Over in Ottawa, USA will be up against a resilient Chinese side who are rekindling memories of their glory days, when they reached the 1999 final but lost to the Americans in a penalty shootout. The USA also won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1991.
The Chinese failed to qualify for the 2011 tournament and the London Olympics, with their 1-0 last-16 win over Cameroon earning them a bonus of around $160,000 from the national football association.
USA play China after beating Colombia 2-0 in the last-16 — a costly game for the Olympic champions with key midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday suspended after collecting yellow cards.
“We’ve dealt with injuries so I feel very confident in the players we have to be able to step up and help us advance,” said US coach Jill Ellis.
China’s ‘Steel Roses’ have been gaining momentum since their opening 1-0 defeat to Canada. “We are improving match by match,” said defender Wang Shanshan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.
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