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Women’s World Cup contenders navigate turbulence less than 100 days before kickoff



Apr 8, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; U.S. Women's National Team forward Mallory Swanson (9) is escorted off field by medical personnel during the first half in a match against the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team at Q2 Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dustin Safranek-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries and upsets among top Women’s World Cup contenders show there are plenty of twists and turns to be had with less than 100 days before the tournament kicks off in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil beat Germany, the world’s second-ranked side, 2-1 and Australia ended England’s 30-match unbeaten run 2-0 on Tuesday, the final day of the April international friendly window.

England coach Sarina Wiegman said the team must improve “to be at our best at the World Cup”. Defender Leah Williamson insisted the loss would give the European Champions “a bit of fire”.

But injuries have shaken up other World Cup favourites, with little time left to plan a 23-player squad.

Olympic champions Canada were left without several key veterans in their 2-1 loss against France on Tuesday, and coach Bev Priestman told reporters she would likely have to take an extended group into the preparation camp as they try to plan “with and without some very critical players”.


Midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who has made more than 200 appearances for Canada and helped them win gold in Tokyo, said it would be up to every player to make what remaining time they have left count.

“Obviously the margins are very small against top-tier teams,” she said. “So as individuals we need to go home to our home environments, make sure we’re ticking all the boxes, being our best selves.”

For defending champions United States, who are aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive title, the challenge is filling the hole left behind by goal-scoring machine Mallory Swanson, who went down with a torn patella tendon over the weekend.

“With losing Mal, obviously, conceptually we may look slightly different,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski told reporters after their 1-0 win over Ireland on Tuesday.

“Once this camp is over and we review it, we hope to have a little better answer or at least a clear understanding of the direction that we want to take.”



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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