That’s a wrap on the group stages in this 2019 Women’s World Cup. Four long years have gone by, and just as we’ve begun to feel its arrival, the World Cup is halfway over. While we eagerly await to see what the knockout rounds hold for those who have advanced, here is a look at some of the group eliminations in this tournament so far.
South Korea leaves the tournament with no group wins. The 14th FIFA ranked team suffered a 4-0 to France loss in their opening match that they appeared to never fully recover from. An own goal against Nigeria gave the Super Falcons a 2-0 win, and South Korea finally scored in their last group match against Norway, but their fate was still sealed as they lost their third straight, 2-1.
South Africa represented in their first ever Women’s World Cup and gave us a thrilling opening group match. They held a 1-0 lead over Spain for 70 minutes before a handball and converted penalty kick leveled things for Spain. It was an unfortunate melt down for South Africa as they eventually lost 3-1. A close 1-0 loss to China, and their third loss to Germany, 4-0, ended their World Cup. South Africa made history in their debut thanks to Thembi Kgatlana scoring the first ever goal for South Africa.
Group C gave this World Cup the chaos it craved, with 3 of its teams advancing out into the knockout rounds. Eliminated is Jamaica, with the Reggae Girlz winning hearts all over the world with their journey to the World Cup. With their federation pulling their funding years ago - and disbanding the team - it’s been a long road back just to have a women’s national team representing Jamaica. With help from Cedella Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation, additional fundraising, and some volunteer coaching, Jamaica battled their way through CONCACAF qualifiers to their first ever World Cup. They had no wins in their group, but their historic first goal will be one to remember.
Scotland and Argentina gave us a final group match that will go down in World Cup history. Both teams needing a win to ensure advancement into the knockout rounds, Scotland went up 3-0 in the final group match. Argentina through sheer perseverance - and a bit of VAR - willed themselves to play from behind and earn a 3-3 draw. It was the first ever World Cup match that saw a team play down from 3 goals and earn a result. Scotland’s tournament was over, ever bittersweet as they represented in their first ever World Cup but were unable to capitalize on a 3 goal lead.
Argentina ended the group with 2 points, and needed a number of scenarios to help them advance. Las Pibas made their return to the World Cup after a long absence, that included the team being relegated to inactive status. They played Japan to an emotional 0-0 draw that earned them their first ever World Cup point, and played England closely to a 2-1 loss. However despite their valiant efforts in their final match against Scotland, future matches in group E and F ended their memorable World Cup.
Cameroon and New Zealand played a final group match with Cameroon earning a historic win over the Football Ferns to advance into the round of 16. New Zealand had entered this World Cup with expectations, both of themselves and of pundits and fans who felt they had a squad worth to compete for advancement. However, they failed to collect any results in their group stages. They played Euro champions Netherlands in their opening match and lost on a gut punch stoppage time goal and never looked like a threat within their group despite having top talent and previous World Cup experience. Long time players like Ali Riley and Abby Erceg, still searching for that long eluded World Cup win for New Zealand.
Thailand and Chile make their departures from this year’s World Cup in another memorable group match. Both teams entered their final match searching for their first win, with Chile needing a win by 3 goals to advance into the round of 16. With a swing in momentum during the second half, Chile scored two goals, with an opportunity for a third after a penalty was awarded. The penalty attempt was missed, and as stoppage time winded down both teams were left in disappointment.
Chile picked up their first-ever #FIFAWWC win against Thailand but fell just one goal shy of advancing to the knockout stage.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2019
Watch the full game highlights in our 90' in 90" ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/hy5HFEzRd3
Thailand and Chile had journey’s to the World Cup not unfamiliar to others, but still an inconvenient reminder of the poor support from federations.
Thailand scored their first ever World Cup goal, a consolation, against Sweden. In which they were able to celebrate with one of their biggest supporters, the team’s general manager and benefactor, Nualphan Lamsam. Lamsam has helped to fund the Thailand women’s national team, even helping to employ players back home through her company.
Chile, another country with little support for its Women’s National team and without a fully pro league, was able to host the Copa America Femenina thanks to the collective efforts of its players to encourage their federation to do so. They may not have advanced, but they earned their first ever World Cup win, and pushed the visibility of women’s Chilean soccer forward.
South Korea, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica, Scotland, Argentina, Thailand, and Chile gave us all moments to celebrate, moments to be frustrated with, underdogs to root for, and tournament surprises that were unexpected. They will be missed, and will hopefully make a return to the biggest international stage again.