Wednesday 03 October 2018, 04:24

CONCACAF teams set their sights on France 2019

  • 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship begins this week

  • Three-time world champions USA looking to defend regional title

  • Three-and-a-half qualifying spots to France 2019 up for grabs

USA’s journey to defending their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ title begins this week, as the Stars and Stripes play host to the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship.

The three-time world champions are looking to claim their spot for France 2019 from the tenth edition of the regional championship. Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico are also aiming to return to women’s football’s showpiece event, having all appeared at the last world finals in 2015.

The tournament in brief:

When: 4 to 17 October 2018 Where: USA Who: USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama (Group A); Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Cuba (Group B) What’s at stake: Three-and-a-half places at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. How: After round-robin action in the two groups of four in Cary, North Carolina, and Edinburg, Texas, the top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage of the competition in Frisco, Texas. The winners of both semi-finals will reach the championship final and qualify for France 2019. The semi-final losers will contest the competition’s third-place match, with the winner claiming CONCACAF’s third qualifying berth, while the fourth-placed side will face Argentina from CONMEBOL in a play-off for a spot at next year’s Women’s World Cup.

The favourites Two of women’s football’s well-known teams, Canada and USA are expected to contest for this year’s CONCACAF title, having been the only two teams to lift the trophy on the previous nine occasions. As the current holders, the Stars and Stripes are aiming to be crowned regional champions for an unprecedented eighth time.

USA coach Jill Ellis will be relying on experience to advance from Group A, as her 20-player squad includes 11 players that led the side to their third world title back in 2015. North American rivals Mexico will look to challenge the Americans for the group’s top spot, as they go in search of a third-straight global finals berth.

Hosts of the last Women’s World Cup, Canada will expect to top Group B ahead of Costa Rica, Cuba and Jamaica. Having taken over from John Herdman at the start of the year, coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller will deploy a side that combines talented youngsters with vast leadership experience. Among those experienced players is Canada’s all-time leading goalscorer Christine Sinclair.

Players to watch While this year’s CONCACAF Women's Championship will have several familiar faces in action, the competition may offer a glimpse into some of women’s football’s emerging talent. USA fans are sure to keep a close eye on tournament debutants Hailie Mace and Mallory Pugh, while Mexico’s Jacqueline Ovalle will look to prove her worth at the senior level after claiming the Goal of the Tournament at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018.

Jordyn Huitema could be a useful attacking option off the substitutes’ bench for Canada, with the teenage striker expected to feature next month at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018. Costa Rica will have high hopes that midfielder Gloriana Villalobos can help the central Americans earn a second-straight world finals qualification, while Trinidad and Tobago will look to Norwegian-based forward Kennya Cordner to successfully lead the line for the Soca Princesses.

The stat 21 - USA’s current unbeaten streak, heading into the competition. The world champions are also undefeated all-time on home soil in Women’s World Cup qualifying with 13 straight victories.

What they said "We respect all of our rivals, the three in our group are very important. Obviously, we know that the United States has earned all the merits and are the world champions. We are working to try and be at that level and we will not lower our efforts until we can reach their level and overcome them. We have the talent for that.” Mexico coach Roberto Medina

“I believe that with the 20 players that we have assembled to represent Jamaica in this final round, we should go out there and put in a good showing. The ladies are eager and hungry for more success and they want to show and prove that they can match up with the best in the world.” Jamaica assistant coach Andrew Price