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For the primary time, the FIFA Ladies’s World Cup will develop to 32 groups this summer time. This wasn’t a universally standard transfer on the time it was made, however it has offered alternatives for brand spanking new groups to qualify. Eight in complete have reached the event for the primary time, three of which got here by way of the interconfederation playoffs.
These playoffs had been a powerful success. They offered a steady provide of drama, with excessive stakes and high quality gameplay. Even the groups that did not make it, similar to Paraguay and Chinese language Taipei, got the chance to indicate their talent with the matches proven on the FIFA Plus platform. Ultimately, Portugal, Haiti and Panama arrived, with two of the three groups coming from Concacaf.
That is how they did it.
Group A: Portugal
Unsurprisingly, Portugal claimed a spot in Group E of the World Cup alongside the USA, the Netherlands and Vietnam, beating Cameroon 2-1 of their tiebreaker. Nevertheless, their street to the ultimate was extra sophisticated than maybe it ought to have been: after controlling the sport for lengthy intervals, they let Cameroon in to equalize on 89 minutes, finally sealing the progress with a Carole Costa penalty. within the extension
The Cameroonians will remorse ending in these playoffs within the first place. Eventually 12 months’s Africa Cup of Nations, they completed second of their group behind Zambia, that means a quarter-final in opposition to Nigeria, which they misplaced. They’ve expertise, however underneath head coach Gabriel Zabo they have not put all of it collectively but to discover a fluid system. Right here, Zabo switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2, that means skilled winger Gabrielle Onguene began on the bench. Within the playoff semifinal in opposition to Thailand, he got here on, scored twice and secured a 2-0 win.
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Portugal had been by far the higher crew within the remaining, dominating possession and constantly threatening set items. After hitting the woodwork for an early nook, they discovered the opening objective when Kika Nazareth’s free kick bounced off the publish for defender Diana Gomes to make the most of. Up entrance, the 2 Silvas, Jessica and Diana, led the road with velocity, talent. and direct operation. Each gamers struggled to make an impression overseas at membership degree, however they thrived on worldwide service and had been very important once more right here.
Cameroon’s assault remains to be virtually fully depending on Ajara Nchout. The Inter Milan striker is a talented participant, and she or he finally managed a objective out of nowhere to power additional time. Ultimately, nonetheless, Portugal’s attacking efforts paid off, discovering the match-winning penalty after a VAR evaluate. With the standard they’ve up entrance, and Andreia Norton in midfield, they’ll trigger issues for the USA and the Netherlands in World Cup Group E, and will definitely attempt to attain the spherical of 16.
Group B: Haiti
Haiti triumphed on this part, beating Chile 2-1 in a dramatic playoff remaining. That victory places them in Group D of the World Cup, together with reigning European champions England, Asian champions China and a great crew from Denmark. They’ll do properly to get a lead to such a tricky group, however with their entrance row, something is feasible.
They overcame Senegal within the playoff semifinal, profitable 4-0 thanks to 2 targets from Roselord Borgella and one from Kethna Louis and Nerilia Mondesir. Senegal had been disorganized defending set items, conceding their first two from this field, earlier than falling aside tactically and permitting Haiti to complete the sport on the counter.
Haiti settled right into a 4-2-3-1, with every of their attackers taking part in within the French prime flight. Mondesir of Montpellier is a quick and direct participant who can function up entrance or on the wing. On the membership degree he’s turning into extra highly effective, with six targets to date this season. A tough and technical striker, Batcheba Louis has been a frequent goalscorer within the final two seasons, first with Issy and now with Fleury. Then there’s Borgella, 5’10 tall, who offers extra of a bodily presence. Nevertheless, Melchie Dumornay is the actual star of the present.
Dumornay just lately agreed to affix Lyon from Reims in the summertime. The 19-year-old is broadly considered among the best younger gamers and he confirmed why in opposition to Chile. He opened the scoring with an outstanding solo objective, chesting a protracted ball effortlessly, taking part in one-on-one with Borgella earlier than discovering the far nook from a decent angle. He then scored the second, firing dwelling on an help from Mondesir. Chile pulled one again within the eleventh minute of second half stoppage time, however it was too little too late. Dumornay had accomplished the harm and Haiti was over.
Group C: Panama
Panama certified after beating Paraguay 1-0, sealing a spot in World Cup Group F alongside Concacaf rivals Brazil, France and Jamaica. A spectacular overhead kick from Marta Cox and a superb solo objective from Riley Tanner, chosen within the 2023 NWSL draft by the Washington Spirit, put them previous Papua New Guinea earlier than Lineth Cedeño’s header gave them victory over Paraguay.
In fact, Paraguay had probably the most troublesome street to this playoff remaining. They got here again from 2-0 down in opposition to a powerful Chinese language Taipei to win on penalties. There was no scarcity of drama in that recreation: Hsin-Hsuan Pao skilled the heartbreak of lacking three penalty kicks, as soon as within the remaining minutes of additional time, then twice in shootouts after lacking his preliminary one once more. Alicia Bobadilla, the Paraguayan goalkeeper, made the saves, and Lice Chamorro stepped as much as rating the profitable penalty.
After a chaotic slog to succeed in the ultimate, Paraguay confronted a tricky Panamanian crew that settled in a 3-4-3. Panama had nice possession, thanks primarily to the consolation of goalkeeper Yenith Bailey who got here out of her field properly to begin the sport, and Tanner, nicknamed ‘Frozen’, after the Disney princess, by her teammates, ran the road continuously, taking out a presumably fatigued Paraguayan. Protection this fashion and that.
A lot of Paraguay’s recreation went by means of Jessica Martinez. The Sevilla striker dropped into midfield to hyperlink up, however the three from Panama had been assertive and scored arduous. Wendy Natis, 20, was significantly spectacular, popping out on prime and making some good tackles. It was a detailed recreation, and all it took was a poor protection of a set play to permit Panama to attain the game-winner, Cedeño heading in unmarked on a Cox free kick.
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How Portugal, Haiti and Panama qualified for the World Cup – Equalizer Soccer