Women’s World Cup Group G

The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand kicks off on July 20.

AFP Sport takes a detailed look at Group G:

ARGENTINA (FIFA ranking 28)

Coach: German Portanova (ARG)

Star player: Estefania Banini (Atletico Madrid/ESP)

Best World Cup performance: Group stage (2003, 2007, 2019)

Lionel Messi and his side won the men’s World Cup in Qatar, but ambitions are far more limited for Argentina’s women’s team.

Argentine women’s football is still semi-professional, meaning players can only make a partial living off the sport.

They have been at the Women’s World Cup three times and are yet to win a match in nine attempts.

In 2019, they again failed to get out of their group, but they did pick up points in draws with Scotland and former world champions Japan.

In Australia and New Zealand, they are aiming to make a piece of history by reaching the knockout rounds.

“We don’t think we’ll win the World Cup, but we’ll give a good account of ourselves,” veteran goalkeeper Vanina Correa told FIFA.com.

Experienced midfielder Estefania Banini, an ever-present for Atletico Madrid, is the team’s talisman.

ITALY (FIFA ranking 16)

Coach: Milena Bertolini (ITA)

Star player: Manuela Giugliano (Roma/ITA)

Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals (1991, 2019)

Coach Milena Bertolini left out the 34-year-old long-time captain Sara Gama from her squad as she looks to the future.

The teenage Barcelona midfielder Giulia Dragoni was called up, underlining how Bertolini is putting her trust in a new generation.

Dragoni is unlikely to start given the stiff competition in a midfield led by Manuela Giugliano, but she could well play a part as Italy try to show that they are better than their dismal display at Euro 2022.

They flopped at the tournament, finishing bottom of their group, taking one point from three games.

Italy reached the quarter-finals at the last World Cup, but expectations are more modest on this occasion.

Their time could come instead in 2027.

South Africa (FIFA ranking 54)

Coach: Desiree Ellis (RSA)

Star player: Thembi Kgatlana (Racing Louisville/USA)

Best World Cup performance: Group stage (2019)

The lowest-ranked team in what looks like an open group, South Africa will have to do something special to reach the knockout rounds.

They have appeared at the tournament only once before, in 2019, when they lost all three matches and scored one goal.

Preparations for this World Cup were overshadowed by a pay row with South African football authorities, but that seems to have been resolved.

The Banyana Banyana are African champions and their squad is largely made up of players from the domestic league.

US-based forward Thembi Kgatlana is a lynchpin of the side and is now fit and firing following injury.

Attacking midfielder Linda Motlhalo is another playing overseas, with Glasgow City in Scotland.

SWEDEN (FIFA ranking 3)

Coach: Peter Gerhardsson (SWE)

Star player: Fridolina Rolfo (Barcelona/ESP)

Best performance: Runners-up (2003)

Undoubtedly the strongest team in the group, it would be a major surprise if Sweden do not get to the last 16 at the very least.

They have a long and proud history in women’s football, having featured at the first World Cup in 1991, where they finished third.

Sweden have been to every World Cup since, losing to Germany in the 2003 final and coming third last time.

They reached the semi-finals at the Euros last year before being soundly beaten 4-0 by hosts and eventual champions England.

Sweden’s squad boasts some top talent and numerous players who feature at leading European teams, including the Chelsea pair of midfielder Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and goalkeeper Zecira Musovic.

There is also the Arsenal trio of Stina Blackstenius, Lina Hurtig and Amanda Ilestedt, plus Filippa Angeldal at Manchester City.

Fridolina Rolfo is a goal-scoring and pacy left winger at Barcelona who can also play up front.



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