Fri, Jun 26, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Germany and US eyeing third title


Cameroon goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom, left, collides with China’s Wang Shanshan in their FIFA Women’s World Cup round-of-16 match at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday last week.

Photo: AFP

Giants Germany and the US continue their quest for a record third title today when they meet France and China respectively in the FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals.

Top-ranked Germany, winners in 2003 and 2007, face an ambitious France in the largely French-speaking city of Montreal. France are seeking their first major title after finishing fourth in Germany in 2011 and at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Over in Ottawa, the US are up against a resilient China who are rekindling memories of their glory days, when they reached the 1999 final, but lost to the US in a penalty shootout. The US also won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1991.

China failed to qualify for the 2011 tournament and the London Olympics, with their 1-0 round-of-16 win over Cameroon earning them a bonus of about 1 million yuan (US$160,000) from the national soccer association.

Champions Japan, the only team to have won all their matches in the tournament, move to Edmonton where they next play 10th-ranked Australia tomorrow, the same day that England tackle hosts Canada in Vancouver.

Germany coach Silvia Neid dismissed talks of her side being favorites after demolishing Sweden 4-1 in the round-of-16.

“I’m not convinced of it yet,” Neid said. “France are ranked third and it won’t be easy. We know where we stand, but we’re not yet world champions.”

Germany have won two titles, finished runner-up in 1995, and have won every Women’s European title since 1995, but they were shocked in the 2011 World Cup at home, when they equaled their worst-ever showing — losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Japan.

France midfielder Jessica Houara D’Hommeaux said Les Bleues were out to stop the “steamroller.”

“Germany are a sports machine, a steamroller,” she said. “There’s the United States and Germany, and then everyone else, but we’re closing the gap and I really want people to talk more about France and the other teams. It’s good for women’s football.”

“We’re third in FIFA’s rankings. It’s good, but we’ve won no trophies so far,” the 27-year-old added.

The US play China after beating Colombia 2-0 in the round-of-16 — a costly game for the Olympic champions with key midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday suspended after collecting yellow cards.

“We’ve dealt with injuries, so I feel very confident in the players we have to be able to step up and help us advance,” US coach Jill Ellis said.

China’s Steel Roses have been gaining momentum since their opening 1-0 defeat to Canada.

“We are improving match by match,” defender Wang Shanshan said, adding that the 1999 final had inspired her to play soccer. “I was in primary school, but I remember watching it very well. That was when my dream started, when China played so well to reach the World Cup final. Sun Wen was my favorite player and my hero at that time.”

Canada will be hoping to get the crowd behind them again at the BC Place Stadium against England, who beat them 1-0 in this year’s Cyprus Cup final, but who lost to the hosts in a pre-tournament friendly.

“It’s almost like we can see the summit,” Canada’s English coach John Herdman said.

“It’s within out grasp. We just have to reach up there,” he added.

Olympic bronze medalists Canada’s best finish was fourth in 2003, while England have never advanced out of the group stage before.

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