FA Girls Youth Cup quarter finals draw

Here is the draw, holders Liverpool are in the hat and will play their postponed 2nd round game  in the new year

Gillingham v Stoke or Liverpool
Everton or Blackburn v Aston Villa
Hampshire v Arsenal
Oxford v Birmingham

Ties to be played 7th of February


Who will be in England final 23 squad for the World Cup ?

If we analyze the data provided by the exellent tumblr http://fyfawsl.tumblr.com/tagged/engwnt for the year 2014, Mark Sampson has used 30 players overall.

Players are ranked by total of minutes played in 2014

GK 4 :  K Bardsley, S Chamberlain, C Telford and E Durack

DF 9 : A Scott, S Houghton, L Bronze, D Stokes, L Bassett, A Greenwood, G Bonner, S Bradley, C Stoney

MF 8 : F Williams, K Carney, J Nobbs, J Scott, J Moore, A Asante, K Smith, J Potter

FW 9 : T Duggan , E Aluko,L  Sanderson, N Dowie, E White, G Davison, F Kirby, J Taylor, J Clarke


There are 3 categories of players used in tournament football :

A the regulars who are guaranteed a start as the manager has put his trust on those players

B those who are competing for places and are likely to be used as a sub or when the the manager decides to rotate the squad

C the back-ups who are there to make up the numbers are unlikely to play at all in the tournament but must be ready to come on the pitch at any time should circumstances call them into action.

The biggest problem is to select the players with the right personality for categories B & C as well as the right football, history as shown time and time again in previous world cups ( mainly men’s football)  that a disunited squad will lead to failure.


Here is what I think as of today the 31st of December 2014 could/would be on the plane to Canada next Summer. Note that hierarchy can change due to loss of form or long term injury for players in the B category, C are fringe players, players in the A category at the moment are 99% guaranteed to be on the plane unless they are injured or do something really stupid.

Category A 13

GK K Bardsley, S Chamberlain

DF  A Scott, S Houghton, L Bronze, D Stokes,

MF F Williams, K Carney, J Nobbs, J Scott

FW T Duggan, E Aluko,  LSanderson


Category B  9 ( need to prove their worth throughout the next 6 months )

GK C Telford

DF L Bassett, A Greenwood

MF J Moore, J Potter

FW N Dowie, F  Kirby, J Taylor, J Clarke


Category C 8 (likely to be  fringe players in the squad if selected)

GK E Durack

DF G Bonner, S Bradley*, C Stoney

MF A Asante, K Smith

FW E White*, G Davison

*Bradley and White suffered ACL injuries so could be classed as B category players, but they have to prove in the next 6 months that they are better than those currently selected


You can also add category D ie players who did not get a game this season but could come and grab a place in the squad if they perform well next season :

GK R Spencer, M Earps, R Brown

DF D Susi, J Rose,C  Rafferty,

MF I Christiansen

FW D Carter N Parris


Things will change throughout the season and it will update this post after the USA Friendly and the Cyprus Cup.

U19 and U23 Football tourneys at La Manga

As usual teams go to Spain to enjoy a warmer weather than in England :  http://lamangaclub.com/sport/football/la-manga-club-football-programme-2015

England, Norway, Sweden and USA U23 24th Feb to 3rd of March for the usual 4 nations tournament.( girls born in 1992 and later )

Norway, Italy, Scotland, Denamark, Sweden, England, France, Ireland,  Netherlands and USA 3rd to 10th of March for the usual 10 nations tournament in preparation for the UEFA U19 Elite round. ( girls born in 1996 and later)

Edit :  France are not invited to the 10 nations tournament at La Manga this year. According to sources, the organizer the NFF has not invited France as there was a problem with a friendly that did not happen at Senior level…

My top 10 games attended in 2014

10. England v Germany international friendly played at Wembley Stadium

It was the first England Women game played at the new Wembley.  There were 45 k + fans, not the 55k announced as sold. To be fair public transport was bad on the day and the weather was absolutely awful.  Still it was a  very good attendance and hopefully  a chance for more games to be played at Wembley Stadium. Football wise, it was game settled at half time. I had some good company with a fellow Nantes supporter.


Year 2014 review games 91-100


91.  Arsenal U17 v Middlesex U17  29th of November

92. Millwall Development v Arsenal Development 30th of November


93. Nestle Cup Urawa reds v Yunogo Belle 6th of December

94. Nestle Cup Sao Jose v Arsenal Ladies 6th of December

95.  PSG V Guingamp 7th of December

96. Bedford Ladies v Cambridge Women 14th of December

97. Hampshire U17 vMiddlesex U17 20th of December

98. Coventry City Ladies v Bradford women 21st of December

Countries visited in 2014 :

England, France, Cyprus, Roumania, Sweden, USA, Germany, Norway, Japan, Wales

France reach all time high FIFA ranking with 3rd place

As of today the 19th of December 2014, France have reached their highest ever ranking with third place in the FIFA Women’s World ranking.

France are currently third with 2091  points behind USA with 2158 points and Germany who have just overtaken the USA with 2176 points. Germany hold the number 1 ranking in men and women’s football an impressive feat.

When Phillipe Bergeroo took over from Bruno Bini back in September 2013, France were ranked 6th in the World following a disappointing Euro 2013 quarter-final exit. It is a credit to the coach and his staff that they managed to climb 3 places up the table in a year and half, collecting many good results against top 5 teams and reaching France record points as well in the process with points.

The big question is if those points will transfer into trophies or medal as so far France have only a 4th place at the WC 2011 and the 2012 Olympics to show for. The 2015 WC will be the last chance for a generation of French players to bring something home be it Gold, Silver or Bronze.

2015 Algarve Cup groups disclosed

The Swedish FA has disclosed the 3 groups for the tournament that is played from 4th to the 11th of March : http://svenskfotboll.se/landslag/damer/arkiv/landslag/2014/12/gruppindelning-for-algarve-cup-2015/

Current ranking included :

Group A average position 6.75
Group B  average position 12
Group C average position 15

It will be interesting to see if the same format as last year is kept or if there is a change. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Algarve_Cup

Groups A and B, containing the strongest ranked teams, are the only ones in contention to win the title.

The teams in Group C played for places 7–12.


The format will change from the previous seasons and all 3 groups will compete for the trophy rather than group C being the also-ran.

The big question is will the best 2 group winners play the final ? if so the Group C winner will try to hammer Portugal surely to get the best goal difference.

FIFA ranking updated

Group A- Germany (1), Sweden (5), China (13), Brazil (8) average 6.75
Group B- USA (2), Norway(12), Switzerland(19), Iceland (20) average 13.25
Group C- France (3), Japan (4), Denmark (16), Portugal (42) average 16.25


More information on Laure Boulleau’s whereabouts failures

This is the translation from the footofeminin article  : see the website : http://www.footofeminin.fr/Bleues-Dossier-Laure-BOULLEAU-Un-manquement-qui-releve-de-l-administratif_a9994.html

Alexis Grambat, Laure Boulleau’s lawyer was invited in the tv show Femmes2Foot on Eurosport yesterday. He explained the current situation on the news revealed by the Agence France Presse and indicated that the Federation Francaise de Football would take a decision in the next few days.

The lawyer Alexis Gamblat has given more details precised the reasons behind the PSG French international has 3 whereabouts failures as requested by the AFLD . Those failures are not all related to drug tests. We have to say that the athletes have to fill up their data in the ADAMS software every 3 months and precise an hour slot where they can be controlled and the place where they will be located.

The first failure was due to a miss at a drug test. The player at the time did not want ( for personal and private reasons) to challenge that ruling. The 2nd failure is not due to a miss but due to not filling the data in the software on time ( 15 days before the start of the 3 months period). The third failure like the first one was a miss, but this time with justification as she was in the National Team’s camp in Guyana last June in preparation for the Brazil friendly.

The journalist from AFP was asked during the TV show how he had learnt about the the decision following a remedy before the Conseil d’Etat that was rejected by the authority. ( The Conseil d’État is the highest administrative jurisdiction – it is the final arbiter of cases relating to executive power, local authorities, independent public authorities, public administration agencies or any other agency invested with public authority.) The decision was shown as anonymous but by cross referencing information, he found out the player’s name. There are 6 players from the NT who are under the localisation obligations : Camille Abily, Louisa Necib and Marie-Laure Delie are among those.

Laure Boulleau’s lawyer said he found it regrettable that the information was leaked as the procedure was still in progress, he mentioned that “nothing had been decided yet”. He emphasised that it “is not a doping case sensu stricto , it is a missed control case due to administrative failure” The lawyer speaks about Boulleau sincerity/good faith like in the last location failure/ miss where she was not trying to hide being with the NT. Moreover he précised : “ during that 18 months period, there were a certain amount of unannounced drug test with PSG and the NT and she passed them all.

This is not a unique case and it is currently in the hand of the Commission Federale that is habilitated to manage those files. We learnt that they gathered last week and we are awaiting the decision that will be known this season. There have been many similar cases in French sport with penalties going from 2 years suspension to being cleared. The lawyer said he was “quite serein” . Whatever the outcome is there will always be some possible recourse. “If she were suspended, the suspension would start right now but there some possible recourses” he said.

Update : 17th of December Laure Boulleau has been cleared by the FFF as per her twitter feed :

She said : Hi, no suspension, I am relieved, my integrity is not put in doubt, this is the most important thing. Those diffcult times will be helpful for me in the future. Your support during those difficult times has been enormous, it was a huge help, I would like to thank you all one by one.

IWCC 2014 final day reports

Final game report by myself  who attended the Final match in Tokyo, assisted by Gerry / @bluemumfred who comments on the 3rd-4th place play-off game
IWCC2014 Final day (3rd-4th place Play-off and Final match), Saturday 6th December, Tokyo, Japan

The 3rd-4th place Play-off and Final match of the IWCC (International Women’s Club Championship) were played in Tokyo, on Saturday 6th December, in cold but sunny weather. In my article http://protagonistasdeljuego.com/2014/12/cartas-desde-japon-finaliza-la-iwcc-tokyo/
about the semi-finals, I had expressed disappointment about the attendance. Yet again, the final attracted only 1,350 fans. This compares to the semi-finals last year, when sponsored by Mobcast, when 5,000 attended the semi-finals held on the same day but in different stadiums. In fact, even for the first round this year, held in Mimasaka, about 2,000 people atended, and these were almost all traditional Belle fans. They were well entertained, and I had written an article about that day here: http://protagonistasdeljuego.com/2014/12/cartas-desde-japon-primer-dia-de-la-iwcc-mimasaka/

Once again, I have the strong impression that the new sponsor Nestle did not aggressively promote the tournament. Despite initially hiring the girl pop group “Scandal” as a tounament image or icon, the IWCC web-site here http://iwcchampionship.com/ shows that even “news” ítems were abandoned in favor of raw score-lines. From what I know, very un-Japanese, and in any case, disappointing and difficult to understand.

3rd-4th place Play-off:
Urawa Red Ladies (Japan) 4-0 Yunogo Belle (Japan)

Both of these teams had played well in their semi-finals, and with better luck either or both teams might have qualified for the final. The clubs had met in Japan’s L-League four times this year, with Urawa winning the last three times to Belle’s initial victory. As far as I recall Belle had never beaten Urawa until last year, which shows how much Belle has progressed to challenge Japan’s top teams.
Urawa started the same squad as in the semi-final, with one exeption. It had been announced the previous day that striker Ami Otaki had been signed by Guingamp of France’s Division One, in a move clearly intended on bolstering her chances of making the World Cup 2015 squad, or perhaps the 2016 Olympics. She will leave within a week or two, missing the year-ending Empress Cup, and hopefully she still has time to integrate into her French club and make an impression on coach Norio Sasaki for Nadeshiko consideration. Although in my own opinion she is a world-class player, certainly this past year has been wasted as the Urawa coach scarcely ever started her.
As usual, Belle started the same eleven that the coach always starts! However, the Belle dependence on key players would be exposed in this game.
The game started at a fairly furious pace between the two rival clubs. Urawa had a great chance when Goto took down Wada’s cross in the box but her shot was high. At the other end Nakano twice penetrated to the end-line near goal, as usual thanks to Miyama’s passes, but her final ball into the crowded goalmouth was cleared on both occasions. Then at about 20’ it was League MVP Goto who opened the scoring for Urawa with a fluke shot which deflected viciously off Takahashi to trickle into the net.
Shortly afterwards, a superb passing movement from Belle ended when Matsuoka failed to anticipate Arimachi’s final ball which would have left the goal at her mercy. Worse was to happen for Belle about five minutes later. Just as for both of Belle’s earlier IWCC matches, GK Fuhkomoto opted to head clear well outside the PK box. Entertaining but risky, and this time she collided with Goto’s boot, injuring her face. After a delay, she was stretchered off and Belle had to bring in young reserve GK Aoyagi, who had never played a senior level game before this.

If this did not concern me enough, GK Aoyagi posed a very short figure between the Belle posts, and Urawa soon tried to test her from distance. However she showed she had a very safe pair of hands, even if her positioning against attacks looked off. So, as the game entered the second half, it still looked possible that Belle could save the day. Indeed from a corner kick at about 55’ the excellent Nakano connected with a header that only narrowly missed.

A few minutes later, Urawa increased their lead when a Saito cross was headed in by Shibata, who had evaded the Belle defenders. Belle still had chances, and a close-range free-kick by Miyama was hit well but saved by GK Ikeda. Then Urawa bought in Otaki, in possibly her last game for the club. After a close miss from a header, she took the second chance presented for a 3-0 lead. As Belle kept fighting, a late breakaway lead to Usui scoring Urawa’s fourth.

It appeared to me that the absence of GK Fuhkomoto, who as captain vocally coordinates the defence throughout every game, resulted in the Belle plan breaking down at the back. However, to play three games in seven days was probably too much for Belle, a club which has a frantic style but seldom goes to the substitute bench whether winning or losing! Their players did look tired, and up front Matsuoka in particular had a disappointing performance.

Early next year Belle should seek to attract new players, particular for the back-line, to their mountainous location in Mimasaka, and perhaps their success in winning the League regular series will help. On the other hand, in my opinion certain players at clubs such as Urawa, Beleza and other strong clubs should consider the example of Otaki in seeking to experience the speed and physicality of the western game, as the World Cup and Olympics events are just over the horizon. In fact some of the stronger clubs have large talented squads full of players that would benefit considerably from playing time at a club like Belle that needs them, and where they could learn from Aya Miyama, a player who has mastered all aspects of football like no other woman and very few men. In this respect the NWSL (USA) draft system is much superior to Japan’s as it distributes the talent evenly.

Final match:
Sao Jose (Brasil) 2-0 Arsenal (England)

The game between Sao Jose and Arsenal was a tense affair, indeed with some bad temper showing during the game. was Among thespectators with about 20 gooners (the cheering squad) making noise and singing, mostly for Arsenal, but there was also a fan or two with a Brazil flag in the opposite stand.

Sao Jose started the game well and pressures Arsenal from the kick-off. It paid off quickly with Stoney gallivanting around and doing a difficult back-pass to Chamberlain who cleared as far as she could but the ball came back into the penalty are where the defenders were not tight enough on Rosanna who scored with a side-foot low show in the bottom corner. 1-0 Sao Jose 4’.

From then Sao Jose carried on asphyxiating Arsenal with their pressing and created many chances with Debinha and Giovania. This lasted for about 25 minutes and then Arsenal started to come to life after switching a few players position on the pitch mainly Sanderson and Williamson. Arsenal started to dominate and Sao Jose started to use all the trick of the trade: clever fouling, time wasting, injury simulation, all the classic stuff that you need to use to gain time. Very cynical but efficient. Sao Jose were always dangerous on the break with Arsenal starting to open and leaving loads of space behind their defence. Sanderson had one chance just before the break but it was easily saved.

Half time came with Sao Jose leading 1-0.

Arsenal started the 2nd half on the front foot trying to put pressure while Sao Jose was slowing everything down and going on the break with their quick forwards. Although Arsenal was trying to put pressure, they were not finding it easy to find space in the Sao Jose defense despite having many corners. On one of those Carter hit a shot that went off the crossbar but it was not meant to be. There were more chances created but to no avail and Pedro Losa made more changes to put an even more attacking team on the pitch. Those gaps were greatly used by Sao Jose who put a quality counter attack and a through ball where Chamberlain was late and took the player down. She was booked and the subsequent penalty was scored by Giovana and so 2-0 71’.

From there, there was no way back for Arsenal as the players could not find a way to break the excellent defense from Sao Jose who carried using the trick of trade to slow the game down which resulted in a 5 minutes added time at the end of the game. It finished 2-0 Sao Jose a logical result as they managed to hold on their early lead and add another goal on the break. Arsenal tried their best but were clearly missing real wingers in their 4-3-3 system, some creativity was also missing in certain positions. Arsenal’s effort deserved a goal but it did not happen.
Sao Jose were worthy winners but their gamesmanship was unfortunately not very good to see. Quite sad that fair play was not on order as there was no post match handshake according to Lianne Sanderson. On the other hand, the $60,000 first place prize must be a welcome boost to any Brasilian club for whom support is notoriously poor.

If we extrapolate to the World Cup chances, we cannot say much for England as not many Arsenal players these days are called up for England or make the starting eleven. Regarding Brazil, the Sao Jose players of the national squad were very tricky, quick and technically really strong, and I expect them to reach the quarter–finals of course. We will have a better idea on where they stand with the upcoming Brasilia tournament. I guess Brazil’s performance will depend on how many training camp they can organise prior to the World Cup, as this has been a weakness for them in the past.

Previewing the FA WSL 2015 schedule

This will be the 5th FA WSL 1 and 2nd FA WSL 2 season. We all know how bad the first four seasons’ schedule have been in FA WSL1 and the jury is still out on FA WSL 2. The season will start in March.

2015 is a big year as it is a World Cup year which means the FA will accomodate the schedule towards the England team even more than usual, therefore putting the clubs into a very difficult situations with regards to injury/fitness/squad size.

There are 52 weeks in a year ie 52 week-ends to play the games if we want to avoid midweek games.

So how many games do FA WSL 1 & 2 teams have to squeeze in the 2015 calendar year ?  There are 4 competitions from the most important to the least (IMO) the UEFA WCL played by 2 English teams, the FA WSL 1&2, the FA Women’s Cup and the FA WSL Continental Cup.


FA WSL 1 teams : up to 30 games 

UEFA WCL up to 5 games

League 14 games

FA Cup up  to 4 games

Conti Cup  up to 7 games with current format

FA WSL 2 teams : up to 31 games

League 18 games

FA Cup up to 6 games

Conti Cup up to 7 games with current format

In theory you can squeeze 31 dates out of 52 week-end, when you do not take into account the international program that takes precedence over the domestic program. This is something that is always forgotten by the FA when they put League games on the same dates as Champions league games, probably gambling on the fact that no English teams will make the quarter finals and therefore not creating any potential disruption in the schedule. After all UEFA forbids league games in men’s football to be played at the same time as Champions League game. Maybe UEFA should apply this rule to women’s football as well.


So let’s have a look at the FIFA dates for 2015 :

10-15 January*

7-12 February*

4-11 March*

4-9 April*

6 June – 5 July#

*48 hours release date

#14 days release date


14-22 September 15  2 games players released Monday to  Wednesday following week

19 – 27 October 15 2 games players released Monday to  Wednesday following week

23 November – 01 December 2 games players released Monday to  Wednesday following week


And the UEFA dates :

21-22 March WCL

28-29 March WCL

7-12 April U19 Elite Round

18-19 April WCL

25-26 April WCL

14 May WCL final

6 June – 05 July World Cup

22 June – 04 July U17 Finals Iceland

15 July – 27 July U19 Finals Israel


 I have been told that the FA is looking at the following option :

FA Women’s Cup and FA WSL Continental Cup games and finals to be played before the World Cup break. Full League program after the World Cup break. It does make sense considering the fixtures congestion in the 1st half of 2015.  You do wonder if playing cup games would be right preparation for th England players though.

Champions League team problems :

Bristol have qualified for the Champions League quarter finals :

Their FA Women’s Cup  Round 5 tie will be postponed to the next available Sunday ie 12th of April when Round 6 is supposed to be played with the obvious knock-on  effect.

Historically the FA has scheduled WSL 1 matchdays at the same time as Champiosn League game, so you would expect Bristol to have 2 games postponed in the first half of the competition.


 UEFA Youth tournaments :

U17 Finals are played during the World Cup so no impact on the FA WSL schedule

U19 Finals 15th to 27th of July for the girls born in 1996 and later. This might potentially disrupt 2 or 3 games in WSL 1& 2players are called up. We might end up in the same situation as season 2014 with an unecessary 2nd summer break for teams with many youngsters involved.


I have created a mock-up schedule for WSL 1 and WSL 2.

If you want a balanced schedule with 7 games each side of the mid-season break due to the World Cup, it is not possible for WSL 1. It is possible for WSL 2 as an extra 4 week-ends are available due to no Champions League games for WSL 2 teams. I have minimised the Continental Cup impact by making all the group games as midweek. If you put the Conti Cup games on week-end dates, well it makes it even more complicated.