The FIFA Women’s World Cup journey continues in Australia and New Zealand today, with the quarterfinals all set to kick off. However, African teams will be absent from the roster, continuing a trend since the tournament’s inception in 1991.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons, the only African team ever to reach the quarterfinals (at the USA ’99 edition), were the lone African presence at the inaugural World Cup. Despite an impressive performance this year that saw them draw with Olympic champions Canada and defeat co-hosts Australia, they were ousted by England in a tense penalty shootout following a scoreless game.
Expectations were high for African representation this year, particularly when three out of four African teams advanced to the last 16. However, the quarterfinal dreams of the continent were extinguished on Tuesday when Morocco suffered a 4-0 defeat to France.
South Africa’s Banyana Banyana also fell in the round of 16, losing 0-2 to The Netherlands, while Zambia exited in the preliminary round.
The upcoming battles for the semifinal positions will prominently feature UEFA teams, with five out of the eight quarterfinalists originating from Europe: England, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and Sweden. The Asian Football Confederation is represented by Australia and Japan, and South America by Colombia. Africa, despite boasting 54 FIFA nations, will have no teams contesting in the quarterfinals.
Edwin Onowvotafe, coach of Cable Football Academy, expressed his disappointment in the absence of an African team in the quarterfinals. He attributed this outcome to the deficiencies in the quality and standard of football on the continent.
With defending champions USA and powerhouses like Brazil and Germany knocked out early, Europe appears to be in a strong position to claim the trophy. As it now stands, at least one European country will likely secure a semifinal spot and a place on the podium on August 20.
SOURCE: The Guardian
IMAGE: Wikipedia Commons