Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 WWC -Equatorial Guinea,Sizing Up The Competition in Group D

Equatorial Guinea has managed to keep their world cup preparation under wraps since they arrived in Germany a month ahead of the competition.As the smallest country in Africa to play at the world cup,the lowest ranked country at the 2011 world cup, and the country with no world cup experience in Group D,Equatorial Guinea has the odds against them as they suit up against the big guns in women's soccer; Brazil,Australia and Norway.Now , a look at what they are up against.


World Cup Appearances : 6

FIFA Ranking : 3rd
Players to Watch : Marta,Cristiane,Formiga,Erika
World Titles: 0
Strengths : Attack and Midfield
Weakness : Defense

Brazil boasts of two of the best forwards in the world.Namely 5-time best player of the world Marta and Cristiane.As group favorites and the team every soccer fan loves to watch,Brazil are bound to dazzle and all eyes will be glued on diminutive but dangerous Marta.
Could this be the year the Brazilians win the world cup ?
The lethal striking partnership formed by these 2 can not be over emphasized. While Marta draws all the attention with her on-the-ball trickery,Cristiane operates under the radar as she rips defenders apart with her pace,dribbling skills and a nose for goals.

Sitting in central midfield will be the veteran Formiga who will be directing affairs with her tailored passes.Having been an important spoke in the wheel of the Brazilian midfield machinery since 1995,33 year old Formiga's experience will offer the calming effect needed by this young team.Her inclusion by coach Kleiton Lima in this team is not surprising even though she hasn't played club soccer since she left FC Gold Pride.

Other mifielders worth mentioning are the strong and tenacious quartet of Renata,Maurine(great ball winner),Ester and Rosana who can provide coverage for the Brazilian defence as well as link up with the forwards with their energetic runs.

At the rear, Brazil has always been vulnerable especially when caught on the counter and goal keeping has been one of their problematic spots. Center back and captain Aline who is the brightest palyer in the Brazilian defense is definitely going to have her hands full.

In Brazilian  coach Marcelo Frigerio,Equatorial Guinea has an experienced coach who is well versed in the Brazilian game and so will impart that knowledge to his team. Brazil against Equatorial Guinea  should be a walk in the park for the Brazilians but with surprise being the middle name of the beautiful game and the main weapon to be relied upon by the tournament freshmen,the world is waiting to be surprised.


FIFA Ranking : 11th
Players to Watch : Lisa DeVanna
World Cup Appearances :5
World Titles :0
Strengths : Attack
Weakness : Defence

The Matildas from the land down under are known to be slow starters who warm up as the competition progresses but when the going gets tough there is always talismanic Lisa De Vanna.
DeVanna in past competitons was deployed from the bench with the purpose of further tormenting an already battered opponent and she has always delivered when it mattered most.As to whether highly experienced  Coach 
Tom Sermanni will still start her from the bench,we will have to wait and see.

Australia being the the country with the youngest crop of players at the 2011 world cup, will depend on the leadership and experience of their veterans-DeVanna,McCallum,Barbieri and Garriock but this youthful team are not to be trifled with. Being an attack minded team, they tend to run out of steam  due to their energetic style of play,the end result being allowing unneccessary freekicks and late goals.

Equatorial Guinea,also a young team, is know to be energetic and robust and against the Aussies,they will have a to battle on level grounds yet drawing from their combative spirit to counter the Aussie's resilience.


FIFA Ranking : 9th
Players to Watch :Herlovsen,Mykjaland,Kaurin
World Cup Appearances :6
World Titles :1
Strengths : Midfield
Weakness : Defense
Norway was once a dominant force in the world of women's soccer in the early '90s having won every competition there was until their stock begun to fall in 2001.Coming into the 2011 world cup,they are still favorites to win the ultimate. This new look Norwegian team has been on a steady rise under coach Eli Lansdem and even though there wont be Raginhild Gulbrandsen upfront,Lansdem has managed to make his team a well rounded team with goals coming from all departments. In attack,Norway has a reliable striker in the person of  Roa's Lene Mykjaland who can turn up the heat with her defense splitting moves and her unrivaled positional play.

Leni LarsenKaurin will be the heart beat of the Norwegian team in midfield, where she is comfortable playing the central role with Lisa Marie Woods and Ingvild Stensland for company. Norway's back line  will be put to the  test when they play against better opposition. Defenders,Berge,Gardsjord,Vikestad,Mjelde  will have to be cautious of how they set their offside traps.
On the whole Norway is a favorite to come out tops alongside Brazil but against the Africans,we could be in for a SURPRISE.

FIFA Ranking : 61st
Players to Watch : Genoveva Anonma,Jade Boho
World Cup Appearances : 1
World Titles :0
Strengths : Midfield
Weakness : Defense

After keeping their team's world cup preparation on a low key for so long,Equatorial Guinea finally stepped out to test themselves against Luxembourg club side Junglinster FC Jeunesse  who they walloped by a whooping 9-0.Another warm up match was played  yesterday at their base in Bitburg against Holland which saw the Nzalang  coming up tops by a 3-1 goal margin with goals coming from star players, Jade Boho and Genoveva Anonma.
Dubbed the surprise team of  Germany 2011,Equatorial Guinea are bent on leaving a lasting impression at this year's world cup and they do have the heart and will to spring a surprise here and there but  not without a stiff opposition. Playing at such a grand stage can be intimidating and if they don't buckle under the pressure of being caught like deer in the headlights of the world cup,this team can bounce some tournament favorites out of the competition.
 As first timers,not much will be expected from them but they still have a lot to gain should they put up a spirited effort and thereby make it to the knock out stages.The buzz around the Equatorial Guineans is enormous  and many are eager to see what they have to offer against their more seasoned counterparts in Group D. With a cool head on their shoulders captain Genoveva Anonma and Jade Boho can inspire their team mates to a successful world cup outing,by clawing a point or better still a win against one of the teams in Group D. Could it be Norway,Brazil or  Australia ?

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