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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hunt

Meet the Eight teams making their FIFA Women's World Cup Debuts

For the first time in its history, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will host a total of 32 teams, a large increase from the twenty-four teams that competed in 2019. With so many new spots available to countries, there will be eight teams making their historic World Cup debut on the biggest stage in the world. Each one worked incredibly hard to qualify for this tournament, and as inherent underdogs, they will all be looking to make a statement in their opening matches. Here’s a deeper look at all the new teams competing in their first World Cup this summer.


Philippines


Qualified: January 30th, 2022, part of AFC, qualified as a semi-finalist in the Asian Cup


Group: Group A (New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland)


1st Match: July 21st versus Switzerland


Philippines WNT after securing World Cup qualification through reaching the semifinals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup. Photo courtesy of @pilipinaswnt /Instagram

Players to watch: Sarina Bolden is sure to give defenses trouble on the global stage, with 36 caps and 22 goals, the Aussie born striker is looking to bring her team to victory, as well as captain Tahani Annis, who has 37 caps and 14 goals, well known for her creative playmaking and incredible goals.


Why you should watch them: This is the Philippines' first global tournament ever, and they’re coming in with style. A young squad with an experienced coach, they’re full of energy and eager to impress. Since 2021, they’ve jumped up 22 places in the FIFA rankings, achieving their highest spot ever at 46th. They’ve been consistently breaking expectations, defeating long-time rivals like Vietnam, marking their first win against them in their sixteen-match history. They finally achieved their first-ever final appearance in a FIFA-sanctioned competition and dazzled with a 3-0 win over Thailand to claim their first-ever major title as 2022 AFF women’s champions.


Vietnam


Qualified: February 6th, 2022, part of AFC, qualified as playoffs in the Asian Cup


Group: Group E (USA, Netherlands, Portugal)


1st Match: July 22nd versus USA


Vietnam WNT after securing World Cup qualification through reaching semifinals of AFC Women's Asian Cup. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Football Federation

Players to watch: Carrying on the trend of young talent being able to shine at this year’s World Cup, fans should keep a special eye on Nguyen Thi Thanh Nha. At just 21 years old she’s had 26 appearances with the senior national team and scored six goals in that time including one against big-time opponent Germany in a June friendly. It’ll be fun to see her hopefully cause some trouble against more seasoned opponents and defy backlines.


Why you should watch them: Interesting tactics are sure to be employed by this team as they attempt to get out of group E which sees them taking on the United States right off the bat. Their coach, Mai Duc Chung, is well known for switching up formations and playing in different styles which is always a benefit of watching an international tournament and getting exposure to lots of different playing styles. As these talented players look to take on some difficult opponents, it’s highly likely we’ll see them play with incredible grit and flexibility to overtake their opponents.


Zambia


Qualified: July 13th, 2022, part of CAF, qualified as WAFCON semi-finalists


Group: Group C (Spain, Costa Rica, Japan)


1st Match: July 22nd versus Japan


Zambia WNT celebrates the winning penalty against Senegal to secure their place at the 2023 Women's World Cup. Photo courtesy of @fazfootball /Instagram

Player to watch: Barbra Banda will be the key to this team’s success among their strong tactical mindset. The first woman in Olympic football history to score back-to-back hat tricks, she’s already set up herself as a key player to watch. At just 23 years old she’ll be looked to as a leader on this squad, scoring goals like no one’s business to push her team over the edge and out of a tough group.


Why you should watch them: Big goal-scoring energy and exciting highlight reel moments is what one can expect from the Copper Queens. They’re in one of the most difficult groups of the tournament, and like the rest of the debut teams, will be looking to prove early that they belong. Their game against Japan should be a very exciting matchup to kick off their tournament.


Morocco


Qualified: July 13th, 2022, part of CAF, qualified as WAFCON semi-finalists


Group: Group H (Germany, Columbia, South Korea)


1st Match: July 24th versus Germany


Morocco players celebrate with their flag after clinching qualification to the 2023 Women's World Cup after beating Botswana in the WACFON tournament. Photo courtesy of @equipedumarco /Instagram

Player to watch: Named player of the tournament in the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations, all eyes will be on Ghizlane Chebbak. With 56 appearances, 21 goals, and the captain's armband, Chebbak is Morocco's confident leader. Football runs in her blood, with her father having been a prominent figure on the Moroccan Men's National Team. Her confidence and goal-scoring will undoubtedly push this team forward in the tournament as their most senior player.


Why you should watch them: Morroco leveled up their game with their new head coach, who was given the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award in 2018. Reynald Pedros is building his team's confidence as they go up against Germany in the opening match. As the first Arab team to make a Women's World Cup, Morroco is sure to feel the pressure. They seem up to the challenge though. They look to walk the line between defense and offense, scoring and conceding a balanced amount. Eager first-timers, the Morroco team will want to attack right out of the gate at their first major tournament.


Republic of Ireland


Qualified: October 11th, 2022, part of UEFA, they were UEFA playoff winners


Group: Group B (Australia, Nigeria, Canada)


1st Match: July 20th versus Australia



Player to watch: Denise O’Sullivan. American fans will know O’Sullivan from her leadership as the captain of the North Carolina Courage, and she’s just as effective for the national team, anchoring the midfield and controlling pacing. European fans will be more familiar with Katie McCabe, who is known as one of the more aggressive players on the field, stopping chances and executing gritty defensive work.


Why you should watch them: There’s lots to be excited about in this Irish team, and they are looking to compete in one of the toughest groups of the tournament. They gave the reigning champions trouble when they traveled to play the USA in a few friendlies, even though they didn’t manage to win. This team has a strong defensive presence that will serve them well, and a tough-as-nails midfield to back them up.


Haiti


Qualified: February 21st, 2023, part of CONCACAF, World Cup playoff winners


Group: Group D (England, Denmark, China)


1st Match: July 22nd versus England


Haiti WNT celebrates a goal scored in their game to secure World Cup qualification. Photo courtesy of @fhfhaiti /Instagram

Player to watch: Melchie Dumornay has recently signed a pre-contract with Lyon to be with them for their next season. The 19-year-old only has 12 appearances for the Haitian national team, but she’s scored an impressive 8 goals in that time. She sent them to their first World Cup with a brace against Chile, pushing them to qualify. Dumornay will come out of nowhere to bag the win and should be a joy to watch.


Why you should watch them: This kickoff match leaves both teams something to prove as Haiti strives to be seen as winners and England strives to prove they can win despite injuries. Like Vietnam, Haiti is well known for mixing up their tactics on an opponent-to-opponent basis, with teams unable to know what to expect. This makes their games very interesting to bear witness to as players switch up their game and maintain excellent physicality. Not to mention some wild goals that have been scored.


Portugal


Qualified: February 22nd, 2023, part of UEFA, World Cup playoff winners


Group: Group E (USA, Netherlands, Vietnam)


1st Match: July 23rd versus Netherlands


Portugal celebrate holding up flags after securing 2023 World Cup qualification. Photo courtesy of @portugal /Instagram

Player to watch: American fans might be familiar with Jessica Silva who spent some time with the Kansas City Current and made 14 appearances for them before moving to play at Benfica in Portugal. With 100 caps for Portugal, Silva is a leader on this team, pushing them to be their best selves. Viewers should pay special attention when Silva has the ball because they’re highly likely to witness some technical magic and artistry.


Why you should watch them: One of the two new teams in Group E, Portugal secured their way to the World Cup by clinching their spot in a World Cup match. They got a 94th-minute penalty kick, which they converted against Cameroon to send them to the tournament for the first time in dramatic style. They went on an unbeaten streak that saw them through eight games before Japan beat them 2-1. Once Portugal gets going, it’s hard to get them to stop, and that momentum will be so important for them in this tournament.


Panama


Qualified: February 23rd, 2023, part of CONCACAF, World Cup playoff winners


Group: Group F (France, Jamacia, Brazil)


1st Match: July 24th versus Brazil


Panama WNT after securing 2023 World Cup qualification throughout the inter-continental playoff. Photo courtesy of @fepafut /Instagram

Player to watch: With a story that feels too wild to be true, Riley Tanner will be joining Panama at the World Cup this summer. A third-round draft pick by the Washington Spirit, Tanner graduated from the University of Alabama with 45 appearances and eight goals. She’s only made two appearances for Panama after being discovered just recently. But she made an impact immediately scoring on her second appearance and will likely continue to do so as she heads to her first major tournament.


Why you should watch them: After struggling and missing out on the 2019 World Cup by a whisper, Panama’s story is a hard-fought comeback. They appointed a new head coach, Nacho Quintana in 2020 to regain forward momentum. They played a spectacular match against Papua New Guinea in their qualifying match, winning 2-0 to get themselves a spot at the World Cup. They’re riding that wave into this tournament in a difficult group. But they show incredible confidence and joy in themselves when playing, making them a fun underdog to root for.

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