For the first time in history, 32 nations are participating in a Women’s World Cup. This also means that eight teams are new. And can provide one or the other surprise. At least it wouldn’t be the first time. Here are our biggest shocks from recent World Cups.
2015: Colombia surprises France
France entered the tournament as world number three. And underlined their title ambitions with undisputed group wins over England and Mexico. However, Les Bleues fell short against Colombia, who are 28th in the Fifa rankings and have not won since their first competition four years earlier.
In the 18th minute, Lady Andrade took the lead for Colombia, and in added time Catalina Usme then increased the lead to 2-0 for the underdogs. Incidentally, thanks to the upset victory, Colombia reached the round of 16, but were eliminated by eventual world champions, USA. France’s Women’s World Cup trip ended in the quarter-finals against Germany. Speaking of Germany, they should be cautious in the 2023 World Cup as none other than Colombia await national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s squad in the group stage.
AD: Play until they can’t look away
2011: Japan snatch the title
The United States and Germany, after all the hosts, were actually considered the big favorites for the 2011 World Cup. Few expected Japan to end up snatching the title from them.
Japan provided anything but good prerequisites. The domestic league had to be canceled just months before the World Cup as the country went into a state of emergency due to the Fukushima tsunami. But after coach Norio Sasaki’s side qualified for the quarter-finals as runners-up in their group, things really started. They first expelled defending champions Germany from the tournament, followed by a win over Sweden in the semi-finals.
The USA waited for the final. The game went into extra time, in which the best player of the 2011 World Cup, Homare Sawa, saved her team on penalties in the 117th minute. Nothing succeeded on the American side and so Japan was crowned first and so far the only world champion in Asia.
North Korea shocked twice
North Korea have made four World Cup appearances so far. The country celebrated its greatest success in 2007 and thus caused a big surprise. Not only did the East Asian team reach the quarter-finals, but they also led the United States to the brink of defeat. In the end, Heather O’Reilly secured the record world champions a 2-2 draw – always a disgrace.
In 1999, the World Cup was held in the United States. One of the co-favorites was Denmark, who had reached the quarter-finals in the previous two editions. But this time, nothing went as it should. The opening loss to the hosts was still manageable, but clear defeats to underdogs North Korea and Nigeria sealed the preliminary round.
Incidentally, North Korea was banned after positive doping tests in the 2011 World Cup, since 2019 the team has disappeared and haven’t played a game.
AD: Play until they can’t look away
1995: Norway celebrate their surprise title
The World Cup in Sweden was only the second in the history of women’s (Site notre bureau spécialisé), but by then the United States had long established themselves as the dominant team. As well as Norway, who lost to the United States in the World Cup final four years earlier.
Still, the United States was seen as the team to beat. And that’s what the Norwegians did. In the semi-finals, they won 1-0 thanks to a goal from top scorer Ann Kristin Aarönes. They then won the title in the final against Germany – at the time still with current national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg as a player.