Here I take a look at those who failed to make the cut at Canada 2015 despite high hopes.
1. Goalkeeper:Precious Dede (Club-Ibom Queens,Country-Nigeria)
Long-serving Super Falcons goalkeeper Precious Dede was an integral part of the Super Falcon squad which won the 2010 African Women’s Championship. A veteran of 3 World Cups and 2 Summer Olympics, Precious Dede had the eyes of Africa focused on her.
Dede showed glimpses of brilliance but could not replicate her form from the 2010 edition consistently during the 2014 African Women’s Championship. The experienced stopper was dropped to the bench for Ibubeleye Whyte after the first 2 games of the tournament as Nigeria went on to win their 9th title. It was a different story in Canada as Dede regained her starting spot in the team.
Dede had a nightmare against Sweden! She showed her vulnerability whenever the ball was high in the air. The first warning sign came early in the game when she couldn’t claim a cross. Dede made a lot of mistakes, from misjudged dives to poor clearances. She was punished by the Swedes for her errors as she was caught out of position on Sweden’s opening goal. A Therese Sjögran corner kick bounced off the chest of Nigeria forward Desire Oparanozie and into the net. Ten minutes later, Sjögran again found a teammate at the back post and Nilla Fischer eventually tapped the ball in for a 2-0 lead after another mistake off a corner.
Although Dede made some crucial saves during the tournament, some goals she conceded would have been avoidable were she on top form, and concentration levels seemed a real issue for the Ibom Queens stopper.
2. Defender – Osinachi Ohale (Club-River Angels, Country- Nigeria)
Former Houston Dash defender Osinachi Ohale was tipped to shine in Canada after an impressive African Women’s Championship. However, it was to be a disappointing 9 days, as for the entire Nigerian squad. In an attacking sense she offered very little.
She was very poor at right back in Nigeria’s first 2 games of the World Cup. She got bullied by every winger she faced in Group D. Ohales’s tactical awareness was very poor and she could not handle the pressure against Sweden. Her performance against Australia wasn’t good either. Super Falcons coach Edwin Okon benched her for the last game against the USA which Nigeria lost.
3. Defender: Lauren Sesselmann (Club-Houston Dash, Country-Canada)
Thirteen months after ripping up her anterior cruciate knee ligament, Lauren Sesselmann worked her way back into Canada’s national team in time for the World Cup. She returned to the field for Canada against France in April after a year out. Canada’s World Cup opener against China was Sesselmann’s first full game since her anterior cruciate ligament tear in March 2014. Lauren Sesselmann had a shaky start to the tournament and struggled to cope with the pace of the game.
She made a lot of mistakes, which nearly cost Canada in the tournament’s opener. She played a back pass to goalkeeper Erin McLeod, but left it short. Chinese striker Lisi Wang run onto the ball but McLeod bailed out her teammate.
Sesselmann finally paid for her clumsiness in the quarterfinals against England. She collected a pass from a teammate early in the first half. The ball got caught up in her feet, fell to the ground and tried desperately to recover, but it was too late. Jodie Taylor made no mistake with her early finish to give England a 1-0 lead. The Lionesses beat Canada 2-1 to send the hosts crashing out of the Women’s World Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Sesselmann was a chasm of poor play, but was hardly the only reason Canada bowed out. Other players like Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair failed to deliver on the biggest stage.
4. Defender: Emma Berglund (Club-FC Rosengård, Country-Sweden)
Emma Berglund missed EURO 2013 due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. She was one of 9 FC Rosengård players in Canada. The tournament had started on a bright note for her when her flicked header from a corner kick was redirected into Nigeria’s net by Super Falcons striker Desire Oparanozie. But Sweden couldn’t hang on to their lead as Berglund looked utterly helpless against Nigeria’s strikers and wingers. An injury to Berglund after a courageous goal-line clearance hurt the Swedish cause. She missed the next 2 games against Australia and USA but made a return to the starting XI in the round of 16.
The 26-year-old had a poor outing in Canada just like the rest of her teammates and could do very little to save her team from being knocked out by Germany. Her introduction to the team in the round of 16 actually saw Sweden’s defence get worse, as it was taken apart by Germany.
Berglund had high expectations for this summer but it turned out to be her worst.
5.Defender– Nilla Fischer (Club-AC Milan,Country-Sweden)
Nilla Fischer was nowhere near impressive. She was identified as one of Sweden’s key players going into the tournament after winning the DFB Pokal with Wolfsburg. She failed to live up to the hype and was exposed against Nigeria. The 30-year-old fought against the tide to keep pace with opposition attackers.
She was at fault for some of Sweden’s conceded goals in the group stages and couldn’t cope with Asisat Oshoala. Coming up against Fischer, Oshoala outmuscled the veteran defender, powered into the box and slotted in at the near post.
6. Midfielder: Melanie Leupolz (Club- Bayern Munich, Country-Germany)
After winning the Bundesliga with FC Bayern and scoring on the final day of the season, Melanie Leupolz was tipped to be one of the stars in Canada. She scored 4 goals for the German champions last season; her best tally since joining the club from Freiburg. Like many of her teammates, Leupolz was not at her best during Canada 2015. The Bayern midfielder scored 4 goals during World Cup qualification. Her late winner against Ireland helped maintain Germany’s 100% record during the World Cup qualifiers.
Usually so dominant, the central midfielder struggled throughout the tournament to show the world her real qualities. Her fitness during the tournament was questionable.
Many felt that Leupolz should not have started most of the games as she offered very little going forward and missed a lot of chances. Others blamed Silvia Neid for Germany’s poor tactics and approach in the World Cup.
7. Midfielder: Lena Lotzen (Club-Bayern Munich, Country-Germany)
After winning the 2011 U-19 European Championship and finishing the tournament as Germany’s top scorer with 5 goals, Lena Lotzen was introduced in the Die Nationalelf squad by Silvia Neid during the 2012 Algarve Cup. The then 18-year old Lotzen made her senior team debut against Iceland on 29th February 2012 and scored her 1st goal against the same opponents at the 2013 Euro tournament which Germany won. The midfielder had a tournament most players of her age could only dream of having.
The Bayern star has been a shadow of the youngster who went to Sweden two years ago due to injury. Lotzen suffered a cruciate ligament injury in August and missed most of the Bundesliga season. She made her comeback in March as Bayern went on to win their first Bundesliga title in 40 years. One would have hoped she would make a huge difference to the German side in Canada but she failed to make an impact whenever she was brought in as a substitute.
8. Midfielder: Marta Vieira da Silva (Club-FC Rosengård, Country-Brazil)
Marta became the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of the World Cup during Brazil’s 2-0 win over South Korea. That goal was her 15th World Cup goal but the five-time FIFA world player of the year was well below her best in Canada.
The world was surprised when Brazil was knocked out of the World Cup by Australia. I was one of the few people who was not shocked they exited the tournament so early. Brazil’s captain had a poor tournament by her standards. She went missing when her team needed her the most during the Matildas clash. Emma Berglund’s teammate at FC Rosengård is no longer the best player in the world. This was probably her last chance to win a FIFA World Cup with Brazil.
9. Forward – Lotta Schelin (Club- Olympique Lyon, Country- Sweden)
Sweden exited the World Cup without winning a single match. Three straight draws in the group stage saw them finish as one of the best 3rd placed teams but were eventually knocked out by Germany in the next round. One of the great disappointments was Sweden’s all time top scorer, Lotta Schelin. Headlining a trio of strikers, Lotta Schelin came to the tournament as the Division 1 Féminine top goal scorer with 34 goals in 21 games.
The striker, who finished Euro 2013 as top scorer with 5 goals, failed to find the back of the net at the Women’s World Cup. The Olympique Lyon forward, who averages over a goal every two games at international level, had zero shots on target as Sweden headed for an early exit in the Round of 16. The most concerning was the lack of involvement by Lotta Schelin up top. The 31-year-old barely touched the ball in Canada.
10.Forward – Christine Sinclair (Club- Portland Thorns FC, Country- Canada)
Another player who many had a poor tournament is Christine Sinclair. Canada’s all time goalscorer was another player who was anonymous during the tournament. The London 2012 top goal scorer didn’t contribute much to Canada’s attack. Canada topped their group, but Sinclair continued to be poor as the team struggled to score goals. She scored Canada’s winner in the opening game of the tournament.
Sinclair had a dry spell after the World Cup opener and scored her first goal from open play against England but the host nation went on to lose the game and were knocked out by England. Sinclair is now 32 and is no longer the threat she once was. Scoring goals is Canada’s main problem. While Canada has a future in defence and midfield, there is no next Sinclair. Canadians are hoping the 2015 Pan American Games will unearth the next Sinclair.
However, Sinclair who has 155 goals for Canada says she will be at the next World Cup and will be hoping to break Mia Hamm’s record of international goals (158 goals for USA). Sinclair is only behind Abby Wambach (180 goals for USA) and Mia Hamm on that list. She will be 36 when Canada go to France. The future is BRIGHT for Canada.
11.Forward – Vivianne Miedema (Club- Bayern Munich, Country- Netherlands)
Vivianne Miedema may only be 18 years old, but the striker was portrayed as the Netherlands’ big hope going into Canada 2015. With 16 goals, Miedema was the top scorer in the European qualifying round as the Netherlands qualified for their first World Cup. Miedema also scored 6 goals at the 2014 UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship as the Netherlands won the title. She was the tournament top scorer and also won the Golden Ball. ‘Viv the Kid’ has scored 85 league goals in 86 games since 2011.
The Bayern Munich striker, who won the Bundesliga with her team before the World Cup, had a poor tournament and failed to live up to the hype as she failed to score at the World Cup. Oranje’s midfield struggled all tournament to find a way to connect with Martens, Miedema and Melis; one of the key reasons why we didn’t see the best of Miedema and the Netherlands in Canada.
With the Euros in two years’ time in her country, Oranje could be one of the teams of the tournament, with Miedema growing into hopefully a stronger player.
Other flops: Abby Wambach, Sophie Schmidt, Vero Boquete, Lara Dickenmann, Manon Melis, Alexandra Popp, Alex Morgan
Who would make your Canada 2015 ‘Flop XI’? Definitely not Carli Lloyd. Carli is in my team of the tournament.
My Dream Team: Solo, Houghton, Johnston, Krahn, Buchanan, Lloyd, Rapinoe, Henry, Delie, Šašić, Simon
coach: Jill Ellis