Paraguay complete South American quartet(FIFA.com) 30 Mar 2015

Paraguay complete South American quartet(FIFA.com) 30 Mar 2015

Paraguay will compete in their first FIFA U-17 World Cup for 14 years after a tense final-day win over Uruguay sealed their passage to Chile 2015.

A Sebastian Ferreira winner 15 minutes from their end of their winner-takes-all tie against Uruguay was enough for Paraguay to secure an appearance at the event for only the third time.

Uruguay went into the contest needing just a draw and were looking good at 1-1 until Ferreira’s late intervention delighted the home crowd on Sunday.

Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador had already claimed a berth to Chile 2015 in Thursday’s penultimate matchday.

69 days to go(FIFA.com) 29 Mar 2015

69 days to go(FIFA.com) 29 Mar 2015

Icon was the ball that adidas specifically created for the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999™, which was technically identical to the one used at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™.

Icon’s design was more colourful and represented the eight American host cities of the tournament. China PR’s Sun Wen and Brazil’s Sissi were tied at the top of the goal-scoring charts, putting the ‘Icon’ in the back of the net seven times each.

The Official Match Ball of Canada 2015, adidas’ Conext15, will be used at the Women’s World Cup this summer.

Ellis: Game day is what you live for(FIFA Weekly) 28 Mar 2015

Ellis: Game day is what you live for(FIFA Weekly) 28 Mar 2015

Brandi Chastain celebrating after scoring the winning penalty to beat China PR in the 1999 Final as her American team-mates rushed towards her must be one of the most iconic moments in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ history. That triumphant time for USA, however, was 16 years ago, and the last time the Stars and Stripes have hoisted the Women’s World Cup. 

Understandably, USA coach Jill Ellis has plenty of pressure on her shoulders to achieve success north of the border at Canada 2015. The FIFA Weekly caught up with Ellis to discuss her passion for the game, her thoughts on other team’s chances to win Canada 2015, veteran stars serving as role models and much more.

FIFA Weekly: Why do you think USA can win the World Cup?Jill Ellis: It’s a combination of factors. We have good balance and experience and youth. We’re fairly deep on our roster. The component we are working on is starting to come together. To win requires a little bit of luck. All those things can give us a shot at winning the World Cup.

How vital is it for the United States to win playing in its own backyard?
For our country and our sport it is important. We’ve been a country who has been in the upper echelons, a leader in women’s football. It would be fantastic for our players, our country, our federation to win the 2015 world championship. It’s going to be an amazing event, the best World Cup to date because the parity and depth of teams is going to be ultra-competitive. Because it is close to home is great for us. We’re hoping for a big fan base to cheer our players, our team on.

With the team’s success (two world titles and four Olympic gold medals), many consider the USA the “Brazil of women’s football”. You’re expected to win. I was there in 2011 and I watched that team, which arguably on the day was the better team, losing on penalty kicks. It has been 16 years since we last won a World Cup. It’s a good responsibility to have expectations.

We’re ready and hungry to win a World Cup. For our generation it will be very impactful for all the little girls that now have Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach as role models. That generation, they don’t know the team that won in ’99. We’re now coaching the 99ers – by which I mean that’s their birth year – in our national team program. There’s a whole generation that has not experienced not just the euphoria, but the impact and the fallout of a world championship. The 2011 tournament put Germany, Japan and many other teams on the map. The World Cup is such a showcase. It would be an amazing feat to win it.

For many observers, Group D – with USA, Sweden, Nigeria and Australia – is being dubbed the Group of Death.
Certainly if you roll over and die, it’s the group of death. We have no intention of doing so. It’s a very competitive group. It’s a demanding group, with a lot of athleticism. We know from our first game we have to have our focus and our edge to get out of that group. It’s not like we’re going to ease into it and have two or three games not as challenging and suddenly be in the knockout stage. We have to be ready from the first game to be our best.

How much pressure do you have?
I am prepared for this. I’ve been with this program in U.S. Soccer for many years, understanding the expectations. It doesn’t matter if it’s the youth team or the senior team, the expectations are to be at the top level. I don’t think I had any reservations.

I already expected what it was going to be. I was fortunate enough to work at UCLA in Los Angeles and meet legendary basketball coach John Wooden. As a young coach I once asked him, “How did you deal with pressure?” He said, “You embrace it.” When I took this job, there is no grey area here. The expectation is there to have this team win a world championship. It’s liberating really because the World Cup gives you a specific target to work toward.

Much has been speculated about Abby Wambach. After years as a physical striker, she has a lot of mileage in her legs. How do you plan to use her?
Abby is very important to our success in Canada on and off the field. She brings so much experience, leadership, goal-scoring presence. There are so many things that you can stick on Abby. We have an understanding, and she is prepared for any role. She is professional. Whether she’s starting or coming off the bench, I know she’ll be ready. Abby is important, but we’re also continuing to invest in other players because this is a seven-game tournament if you’re going all the way.

How is Alex Morgan getting on with her injury?
She was out for a long time, came back and injured her ankle in qualifying and was out for three months. Alex has had a tough time, but now her fitness is back, her mobility is there, her movement, the running on the ball. Everything has gotten that much sharper. I said to Alex that the most important thing is that she is peaking in June.

Hope Solo is back in the team after suspension. What were her work habits prior to the Algarve Cup?
Even when Hope was not with the team, I was in contact with her [about] her training environment. I was very pleased because she worked very hard. When she joined us in training for the Algarve Cup, her focus from the first day was exceptional. She is as healthy as I’ve seen her in a long time. She kept training, but she was able to recharge her batteries. She played very well in the Algarve Cup and got sharper and sharper. In the final, her game was exceptional.

Which teams have a chance to go all the way in Canada?
It’s going to be as deep as this tournament has ever been. I’d never discount defending champions Japan. They train incredibly hard. France has been on the world stage for a while. Germany and Sweden have always proven themselves to be valued upon. And you’re not going to discount Canada and their home advantage. Brazil are also strong. They have invested in their youth movement. They’re a very balanced team that are capable of winning the title. This is a World Cup where give or take one or two teams, on any given day, any team can beat another team.

Since you were in college, the game has made great leaps and bounds. Can you put it into the proper perspective?
It is truly the female sport globally. 2011 was such a showcase event. Through the media our sport has become so popular. Federations have invested in it. It’s an amazing product. It gives something people value that they want to go and see. 2011 brought the next level of global participation of our sport, technically, tactically, physically, taking so many leaps forward. If you asked [players] what was it like playing from 2011 to now, the players would say the game has changed. It’s a phenomenal showcase for female athletics, our sport. There’s no holding back.

From your perspective, how has the rest of the world improved over the past 20-to-25 years?
Certainly there’s no longer a gap between the USA and other teams. You’ve only got to look at some of the amazing players out there and the world players of the year. Global acceptance of the sport has made female soccer players superstars in their countries. The USA had a head start, but just the fact 16 years has gone by since our last World Cup title says a great deal about the development that has gone on. There’s no longer the thrashings of 10-0, 6-0.

What is the most difficult part of your job?
The challenge is making sure you get the best players together and getting them prepared. You’ve got to bring all the individual elements together to form one big unit. Everyone has to pull in the same direction. Part of why I wanted this job was that I felt I was in a position to master the challenge of winning a World Cup.

And what is the best part of your job?
The privilege of working with these players and coaching this team. It’s an unbelievable job. When I decided coaching was my career, this was my goal. It’s been everything I’ve hoped for. I love being in camp. I love the day-to-day, sharing ideas and meeting and talking to my coaches. But ultimately getting out in the field. I think for any coach, game day is what you live for. That adrenaline, being in the moment, having the opportunity to win. That’s the fun part of coaching. What’s more, I love preparing a team. I love breaking down a team. There is so much about this job that intrigues me. My dad said when I went into coaching: “If you find something that you love that isn’t work – sure there’s long hours – but if it’s something that you truly believe, it’s passion.”

Iran book their ticket to Portugal(FIFA.com) 28 Mar 2015

Iran book their ticket to Portugal(FIFA.com) 28 Mar 2015

Iran have booked their ticket to the 2015 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, after an 8-3 victory over Lebanon in the third-placed play-off at the 2015 AFC Beach Soccer Championship in Doha, Qatar.

After a slow start, Iran took a 2-0 lead after the end of the first period before making it 4-0. Lebanon battled to reduce the deficit and scored two goals but Iran kept their foot on the accelerator as they ended the match with an 8-3 win.

Iran will be playing in their sixth FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup while the Lebanese will have to wait to appear at their first global finals on the sand.

Iran join Oman and Japan as Asia’s final representative in Portugal.

70 days to go(FIFA.com) 28 Mar 2015

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany™ was the third successive competition in which the winner of the adidas Golden Shoe was also the winner of the adidas Golden Ball, as Homare Sawa took the two prestigious titles four years ago.

Germany’s Birgit Prinz took the dual honours at USA 2003 and Brazil’s Marta accomplished the same feat at China 2007. Undoubtedly, many of the game’s super stars will be vying to continue the trend to taking the top two prizes as Canada 2015, which begins in 70 short days!