Wednesday 12 April 2017, 08:11

European quintet overcome first hurdle

  • Kazakhstan, Albania, Israel, Moldova and Faroe Islands reach qualifying group stage

  • Tight race between Israel and Moldova

  • Qualifying matches to take place between 11 September 2017 and 4 September 2018

The road to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ is a long and challenging one. At the beginning of April, the qualifying campaign in Europe that will run until September 2018 kicked off. From 6-11 April the first matches for the world's foremost women's tournament took place and five nations – Kazakhstan, Albania, Israel, Moldova and Faroe Islands - all overcame the first hurdle en route to the competition.

Group 1: Kazakhstan reach qualifying group stage  Just as they did four years ago, Kazakhstan managed to book their place in the UEFA qualifying group stage for the Women's World Cup. They did so thanks to a 1-0 victory over Georgia, a 2-2 draw with Latvia and a 1-0 triumph over Estonia. The latter, who also progressed from the preliminary round four years ago, suffered three defeats this time.

Final standings:

  1. Kazakhstan (7 points)*

  2. Latvia (5)

  3. Georgia (4)

  4. Estonia (0)

Group 2: Albania impress once again The spotlight was trained firmly on Kosovo going in this group, with the side participating in their first ever competitive matches. However, defeats to Albania (3-2), Greece (6-0) and Malta (3-1) ultimately left the newcomers empty-handed. Albania, taking part for a second time, reached the qualifying group stage once again and even managed to do so as group winners. Victories over Kosovo and Greece (2-1), as well as a goalless draw with Malta, ensured coach Armir Grimaj's side took top spot.

Final standings:

  1. Albania (7 points)*

  2. Greece (6)

  3. Malta (4)

  4. Kosovo (0)

Group 3: Israel and Moldova continue to dream Two teams from this pool can begin their preparations for the qualifying group stage. Both Israel and Moldova recorded victories over Lithuania and Andorra and drew 0-0 when they went head-to-head, meaning they each finished with seven points to occupy the top two spots. Competition debutants Andorra finished bottom of the group. Coach Jose Antonio Martin, who has been in charge of the women's national team since June last year, could not prevent his side losing 4-0 to Moldova in their opening fixture. That was followed by a 7-0 reverse against Israel and a 2-0 loss to Lithuania.

Final standings:

  1. Israel (7)*

  2. Moldova (7)*

  3. Lithuania (3)

  4. Andorra (0)

Group 4: Down to the wire The battle for top spot in this group turned into a two-horse race between Turkey and Faroe Islands, a contest that was only decided in the final round of matches when the sides locked horns directly. Both teams went into the encounter on the back of two victories, and the match itself was an evenly balanced affair. Turkey edged ahead in the 17th minute through Melike Pekel but Rannva Andreasen equalised before the break. Milja Simonsen went on to score the winner in a 2-1 victory for Faroe Islands, simultaneously breaking Turkish hearts by stopping them reaching the next qualifying round.

Final standings:

  1. Faroe Islands (9)*

  2. Turkey (6)

  3. Montenegro (3)

  4. Luxembourg (0)

* These five teams qualify alongside the 30 best nations to form seven groups of five. The draw will take place on 25 April 2017 and the fixtures, including home and away ties, will be played between 11 September 2017 and 4 September 2018.