top of page
  • Writer's pictureSavannah Miscik

The Team To Kick It Off: Group A Preview

The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins in just seventeen days. With eight groups and thirty-two teams, there is a lot of action ahead. Each team has its own unique style that will give them both advantages and disadvantages in group play. Group A, featuring one of the host nations, is a strong group that might surprise some people. Here’s a look at Group A.


Group A

New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the hosts of the tournament alongside Australia. Led by captain Ali Riley (Angel City FC), the Football Ferns are on uncertain ground heading into the World Cup. The team has not won a game since September 2022. Head coach Jitka Klimková did not have the majority of her regular starters in many of those matches. Now that the regular Ferns starters are back, the team looks to have a healthy mix of veterans and newbies. While it seems unlikely that the team escapes their group, never count out the spirited Ferns.



Player to Watch:

Grace Jale

Only 24 years old, Jale is one of the A-League Women’s most savvy scorers. She completed her first season with Canberra United this year having scored 3 goals in 17 appearances. Prior to that, she was a scoring fiend with the Wellington Phoenix, scoring 6 goals in 12 appearances. Jale has exceptional positional awareness and speed. If she continues her upward trajectory with the Football Ferns, she may prove to be a game-changer.

Grace Jale #10 for the Football Ferns | Photo Credit to @grace_jale Instagram


Norway

Despite having internationally recognized players, Norway has not won a game in 2023 since February 15. Their collapse at the Women’s Euro was disastrous, and their only wins after the tournament came against smaller teams such as Albania. Norway needs to do some serious defensive soul-searching this World Cup in order to avoid another blowout like their 8-0 loss against England. If their goal-scorers’ contributions can outweigh potential defensive dysfunction, Norway can easily make it out of Group A. If not… it will be a bumpy ride.




Player to Watch:

Sophie Román Haug


Let’s state the obvious: AS Roma forward Sophie Román Haug is tall. Her five-foot-nine frame gives her an obvious advantage on set pieces. Conveniently, Haug is great at scoring headers. Haug has only had eight caps with Norway, but in those eight appearances, she scored five goals. Haug’s aerial dominance and solid finishing skills fill a particular niche within the Norway squad nicely. With an upward trajectory in front of her, Haug should be an important part of Norway’s future.

Sophie Román Haug for Norway | Photo Credit to @sophiehaug Instagram


Switzerland

Switzerland has an array of attacking talent, such as Ana-Maria Crnogorčević who plays for Barcelona, and Ramona Bachmann who pays for Paris Saint-Germain, but they cannot hold onto leads. As soon as they score, they concede. Like Norway, Switzerland needs to improve defensively before they can consider their offensive tactics. That being said, it does seem possible that the defense can be focused given the team’s close score lines and large number of draws. If Switzerland can be defensively minded and let attacking chances come to them, they can certainly make it out of Group A.




Player to watch:

Géraldine Reuteler

Eintracht Frankfurt forward Géraldine Reuteler was one of Switzerland’s most consistent goalscorers in 2022. She scored a hat trick in Switzerland’s 15-0 win over Moldova in World Cup Qualifiers among many other impressive statistics. While others may focus on more established players like Ana-Maria Crnogorčević or Lia Wälti, the young Reuteler is one of Switzerland’s most promising offensive weapons. She is clinical on the finish and lethal from anywhere in the box. If Head Coach Inka Grings doesn’t use Reuteler to her full potential, Switzerland will have a difficult group stage.


Géraldine Reuteler playing for Switzerland | Photo Credit to @geraldinereuteler Instagram


The Philippines

The Philippines are ready to show the world that they are a force not only in Asia but also on the world stage. They dominated the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship, upsetting reigning champions Vietnam in the semifinals and trouncing Thailand in the finals 3-0. 2023 has been less kind to the team, with defeats from several European teams at the Pinatar Cup in February. They have bounced back against smaller opponents, winning every game in the first round of the 2024 AFC Olympic Qualifiers in April. Look for the Filipinas to focus on set pieces and capitalizing on mistakes in the box. Given Norway and New Zealand’s recent sloppiness at the back, it’s possible that the Philippines can play their own style and make it to the Round of 16.



Player to Watch:

Sarina Bolden

Western Sydney Wanderers forward Sarina Bolden is a goal machine. In 36 caps with the Philippines, she scored 21 times. For those less math-inclined, that means that Bolden got a goal for roughly 58% of her games with the Filipinas. Bolden is in a word, well… bold. She cuts through defenses without a care. Her aggression is matched by fellow attackers Annis and Guillou, and their synergy is electric. Bolden’s star in Asian football is rising quickly. Either invest now or be left in her wake.

Sarina Bolden #10 | Photo Credit to @sarina_bolden Instagram

GROUP SCHEDULE


Thu, Jul 20

New Zealand vs Norway

⏰ 3:00 AM

🏟 Eden Park

📍 Auckland, NZ

📺 FOX


Fri, Jul 21

Philippines vs Switzerland

⏰1:00 AM

🏟 Forsyth Barr Stadium

📍Dunedin, NZ

📺: FS1


Tue, Jul 25

New Zealand vs Philippines

⏰ 1:30 AM

🏟 Wellington Regional Stadium

📍Wellington, NZ

📺: FS1


Tue, Jul 25

Switzerland vs Norway

⏰ 4:00 AM

🏟 Waikato Stadium

📍Hamilton, NZ

📺: FS1


Sun, Jul 30

Norway vs Philippines

⏰ 3:00 AM

🏟 Forsyth Barr Stadium

📍Dunedin, NZ

📺: FOX


Sun, Jul 30

Switzerland vs New Zealand

⏰ 3:00 AM

🏟 Sydney Football Stadium

📍Sydney, AUS

📺: FS1


Comments


bottom of page