Four years ago Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands were all in Group A. At the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup they make up Group E with the addition of Cameroon. The Netherlands have the most promising attack going into the World Cup. Canada will have to fight for the top spot, but their youthful players may be a secret weapon. New Zealand has a fighting chance to make it out of the group, but will likely have to do it on the counter. Cameroon impressed four years ago and are not going to go down easily.
The schedule for Group E is as follows:
June 10th 3:00 pm ET Canada vs Cameroon
June 11 9:00 am ET New Zealand vs Netherlands
June 15 9:00 am ET Netherlands vs Cameroon
June 15 3:00 pm ET Canada vs New Zealand
June 20 12:00 pm ET Canada vs Netherlands
June 20 12:00 pm ET Cameroon vs New Zealand
The Netherlands are the team to watch this World Cup. Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens, Danielle van de Donk, and Shanice van de Sanden are expected to score an immense amount of goals this tournament. Miedema scored 31 goals in the 2018-2019 season with 22 goals in 20 appearances in the FA Women's Super League. Miedema was also named the PFA Player’s Player of the Year. Van de Donk was teammates with Miedema at Arsenal during their historic season winning the WSL. In 19 matches for Arsenal the midfielder, van de Donk, scored 11 goals and tallied six assists. Martens has played for FC Barcelona since 2017, scoring 11 goals in both seasons. Martens was named the World Player of the Year by FIFA in 2017 after helping the Netherlands win the Euros. Van de Sanden got her first cap at age 16 and has not stopped since, most recently scoring a brace against Australia on June 1st.
In their final match before the World Cup the Oranje took down the Matildas by a score of 3-0. Van de Sanden scored two while Miedema scored the other, but the more looked over takeaway should be that the defense stopped at dangerous Australian attack. Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, and Hayley Raso were all stopped by the Oranje defense. Sari van Veenendaal is the number one goalkeeper for the Netherlands and will be hard at work against the teams in Group E. Kika Van Es, left back, fractured a metacarpal bone in her left hand during the Netherlands match against Australia, but it is expected that she will not miss the World Cup.
Hosts of the last World Cup, Canada has something to prove. Their best World Cup finish was fourth place in 2004. For a team that considers themselves neck and neck with their neighbors the USWNT they do not have a major tournament win to show for it. This Canada roster has seasoned veterans like Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt but is youth heavy with five players under 22. The Canadians are without veteran midfielder Diana Matheson due to injury, but they do have the best young midfielder in the world stepping in to fill that role, Jessie Fleming. Fleming is 21 currently playing for UCLA and will be entering her senior year this fall. She was 15 when she was first capped since then she has made over 60 appearances and worn the captain’s armband already. Fleming is a box to box midfielder who controls the game and rarely loses the ball. Fleming is the future of the Canadian team along with defender Julia Grosso and forward Jordyn Huitema. Huitema, 18, made an immediate name for herself when she scored her first two goals in her first cap. Grosso plays for the University of Texas and Huitema signed for Paris Saint-Germain just a few days after her 18th birthday.
The expectation around Group E is that the Netherlands and Canada will fight for who wins the group with the other coming in second, but New Zealand could make things interesting. New Zealand is coached by ex USWNT and Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni. New Zealand has gone out in the group stage for their last three World Cup appearances and has never won a World Cup match. This year the Football Ferns have already beaten top opponents like Norway and England, proving they are a much better team than four years ago. Ria Percival and Ali Riley are both competing in their fourth World Cups. Riley, the captain, is an outside back playing for Chelsea of the WSL. Percival, also a defender, has been capped 135 times and scored 14 goals. Another experienced defender, Abby Erceg, will help stop dangerous attacks coming from New Zealand’s Group E opponents. Erceg also has 135 caps. New Zealand can make it out of the group, but it will probably only happen if they sit in and try to score on the counter. With such an experienced defense that mechanism could put New Zealand towards their best World Cup yet.
Four years ago the Cameroon National Team was playing in their first World Cup. They made it to the round of 16 before losing to China, but they are back again with the hope of going further. NWSL fans will remember Michaela Abam the forward who grew up the United States and played for Sky Blue FC. Abam has dual citizenship and will be representing Cameroon in the World Cup. Abam went to West Virginia University and scored 32 goals to put her eighth on their all time scoring list. Also of interest for National Women's Soccer League fans will be defender Estelle Johnson who plays at Sky Blue FC. Ajara Nchout, 26, is expected to produce on the wings for Cameroon. She has the pace and skill to break down defenders one on one, but can also finish.