The Women’s World Cup is finally here and there are plenty of interesting stories unfolding on the second day of tournament action.
Olympic champion Canada kicks off its campaign in Friday’s opening game of action, before one of the Women’s World Cup delegates – the Philippines – makes its bow at the global event.
Finally, Spain’s women face Costa Rica in a mirror image of the men’s national team’s first game in Qatar when The Red won 7-0.
Nigeria and Canada meet at 10:30 pm ET in Melbourne on Thursday before the Philippines and Switzerland take the field in Dunedin at 1 am ET on Friday.
The final match of the day is in Wellington as Spain and Costa Rica hit the field at 3:30am on Friday.
Click here for a list of broadcasters from around the world.
Canada is considered one of the favorites to compete for the Women’s World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand after their recent success.
In 2021, she won the gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, defeating Sweden in a penalty shootout to claim her first major international award.
Despite their success in the tournament, Canada struggled in the World Cup despite their talented team – this time led by captain and national talisman, Christine Sinclair.
It has reached the final stage in the last two editions of the tournament, including reaching the round of 16 in 2019 which was the first time the team qualified for a World Cup held outside the USA and Canada.
However, with an increasingly star-studded squad – with players appearing regularly and winning trophies around the world – expectations are high this year.
From a strong attack in Sinclair and Adriana Leon to a determined defense made up of players like Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky and Ashley Lawrence, it is difficult to pick out a weakness in the Canadian team.
And despite the team’s success at the Olympics, Canada’s head coach, Bev Priestman, says her team is not complacent and is aiming for the top again.
“We want to climb the biggest mountain in the world – the mountain we’ve never climbed,” Priestman FIFA said. “Do I think this team can push for a podium finish at this World Cup? One million percent. And on our day we should.”
First up, Canada faces Nigeria who are the highest rated African team at the 2023 edition, sitting at 40th in the world.
Although the Super Falcons reached the round of 16 in 2019 – the first time they have done so since 1999 – Nigeria have lost more games and conceded more goals at the World Cup than any other team. Over the years, Nigeria is now part of the World Cup, playing in its ninth edition as one of seven nations that have appeared at every tournament.
Coming up alongside co-hosts Australia and the Republic of Ireland in Group B, the two sides will be looking for the best start to their competition when they meet at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium on Friday.
A day after the spectacular Group A opener between New Zealand and Norway, the remaining two teams in the group will make their competitive debuts at Dunedin Stadium – and it will be a big event for many reasons.
Not only will this be the first time the Philippines and Switzerland will face each other, but the Asian side is embarking on a historic trip to the tournament as it marks the country’s first appearance in the World Cup – for the men or the women.
The Philippines are currently enjoying a successful period in their footballing career, all based on their qualification for the World Cup.
The nation also reached the semi-finals of the 2022 Asian Cup, having previously failed to qualify for the knockout stages.
With a team made up of players from all over the world, the team will look to forward Sarina Bolden to provide much of the attack.
Indeed, California-born Bolden scored the decisive penalty to ensure the Philippines qualified for the World Cup and underlined the impact his country’s appearance in the tournament could have.
“I think it brings awareness to women’s soccer, not only in the Philippines, but around the world,” Bolden FIFA said. “I still talk to people today who don’t even know there is a Philippine women’s national soccer team.
“So, I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ And before I went in, I didn’t even know. Starting from when I joined until now, more people are aware. So it’s about the attraction. I know there will be a lot of awareness in the World Cup. I hope that the younger kids and people of all ages want to be more involved in soccer and that we will help on that stage a lot.”
The Asian newcomer faces a tough task in his debut, with the weight of history stacked against him. Since 1995, only three World Cup starters have won their opening World Cup match.
Switzerland is the opponent of the Philippines on Friday making its return to the tournament after the last time around.
In its first game in the tournament in 2015, Canada knocked out the European nation in the round of 16 after recording the fourth biggest win at the Women’s World Cup, beating Ecuador 10-1.
With pre-tournament group favorites Norway losing in New Zealand, qualification from the group looks set to be welcome as Switzerland look to build on their success last time out.
The country’s star attacker Alisha Lehmann says the addition of head coach Inka Grings late last year had a transformative effect on the team’s mentality.
“I think the coach brought us a German mentality, a winner’s mentality,” Lehmann said. “In the training sessions, she looks at the details a lot and I think that will help us a lot to progress.
“Ultimately, it’s a bottom line, but if you look at the details the end product is better. So for us, we really appreciate having her as our coach. It’s a privilege to be her coach, especially at the Women’s World Cup.”
The final game of action on Friday at the Wellington Regional Stadium sees Spain take on Costa Rica in the Group C opener.
The teams have only met once before – the game ended in a 1-1 draw in the first ever Women’s World Cup match between the two teams.
Since her debut in 2015, Spanish football has turned into a wealth of talent, with Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso chief among them.
The return of Barcelona star Putellas – she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury ahead of Euro 2022 and has only played since – will give the team a star attacking edge.
Even without Putellas, Spain were one of four European teams to qualify for the tournament with a 100% record.
With a squad largely made up of players from the all-powerful Barça team that won the Women’s Champions League in June, The Red there will be fierce opposition throughout.
His first opposition is Costa Rica, making his second ever World Cup appearance.
The team’s goals will be based mainly on star striker Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño.
The Portland Thorns forward is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals to his name and must be in form for Costa Rica to hope to progress.