Starting this week, the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) will host its qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that is to take place in France. The McGill Tribune has compiled a list of four teams to keep an eye on as the tournament begins on Oct. 4 in Cary, North Carolina.
Trinidad and Tobago
One of the best women’s soccer teams in the Caribbean region, Trinidad and Tobago is looking to qualify for its first-ever Women’s World Cup. Ahead of the qualifying tournament for the 2015 World Cup, the team arrived in Dallas, Texas for their opening match with $500 and no transportation, practice equipment, or food, prompting Head Coach Randy Waldrum to call for support via Twitter. These tweets momentarily drew attention to the unreasonable expectations heaped upon many women’s soccer teams around the world. Namely, they perform at the highest level without the sufficient resources to do so. Trinidad and Tobago received some support from businesses in the Dallas area, individuals, and even the Clinton Foundation, but ultimately failed to qualify for the World Cup that year.
If they qualify, the Mexican women’s national team, or El Tri, would secure its fourth appearance at the Women’s World Cup, although they have yet to move beyond the group stage. Mexico, currently ranked 24th in the world, is led by midfielder and captain Nayeli Rangel of Monterrey. Last year, Rangel returned to play professional club soccer in her hometown for Tigres UANL in the new Mexican women’s professional soccer league, Liga MX Femenil. By establishing a platform to showcase elite, homegrown talent like Rangel, the league provides an opportunity for the further development of women’s soccer in Mexico.
The Jamaican women’s national team, also known as the Reggae Girlz, finished first in the Caribbean zone’s preliminary qualifying round on home soil, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago. This success came after the team disbanded between 2008 and 2014 after failing to make it out of the qualifying group stages for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Funding from the Bob Marley Foundation has allowed the Reggae Girlz to return to the world stage, and they currently rank 64th in the FIFA World Rankings. While Marley’s backing provided them with financial support, an appearance at the Women’s World Cup would help raise the team’s profile on the pitch and bring in even more resources to improve their training and development programs.
Canada, currently ranked fifth in the FIFA World Rankings, has appeared in every FIFA Women’s World Cup—even hosting it in 2015—except the inaugural tournament in 1991. They have brought home two Olympic bronze medals (2012, 2016), two CONCACAF championships (1998, 2010), and one Pan American Games gold medal (2011). This time around, a strong mix of veterans and young talent will take the field. Among the veterans is captain and star forward Christine Sinclair. The Burnaby, BC native is the second-highest international goal-scorer in women’s history, with 173 goals in 268 national team appearances over her 18-year career. She has also been named the Canada Soccer Player of the Year 13 times. France 2019 could be Sinclair’s final chance to win the World Cup and also a chance at redemption for the entire Canadian team, who were eliminated by eventual bronze medalists England in the last World Cup.