Canada faces some familiar foes in Group E play at the Women’s World Cup. The Canadian women were also drawn in a group with New Zealand and the Netherlands at the 2015 World Cup in Canada. The new face this year is Cameroon.
A look at the first three teams the fifth-ranked Canadians will face in France:
When: June 10.
Where: Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier.
Ranking: No. 46.
History: Cameroon made it to the World Cup for the first time in 2015, reaching the round of 16 before losing 1-0 to China.
Qualification: After losing to Nigeria in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, the Indomitable Lionesses downed Mali 4-2 in the third-place game to book their ticket to France.
Coach: Alain Djeumfa, the team’s fitness coach for the Africa Cup, took over from Joseph Ndoko in January after the qualifying tournament. The 46-year-old Cameroon native will be assisted by former captain Bernadette Anong.
Player to Watch: Gabrielle Onguene. The 30-year-old attacking midfielder, who plays for CSKA Moscow, scored twice at the 2015 World Cup.
Worth Noting: Cameroon opened its 2015 tournament campaign with a 6-0 win over Ecuador.
Versus Canada: The two teams have never met.
When: June 15.
Where: Stade des Alpes, Grenoble.
Ranking: No. 19.
History: The Football Ferns have failed to get out of the group stage in four previous World Cups.
Qualification: Won the OFC Women’s Nations Cup. New Zealand went 5-0-0, outscoring its opposition 43-0.
Coach: Tom Sermanni. The 64-year-old Scot previously coached Australia and the U.S. women and served as an assistant with Canada at the 2015 World Cup. He also coached the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. He took over New Zealand in October 2018 and is headed to his fourth World Cup.
Player to watch: Ali Riley. Born and bred in the U.S., the 31-year-old New Zealand (and former Stanford) captain is a dual citizen thanks to her father, a native of Christchurch who moved to the U.S. in his late 20s. The defender plays her club football for England’s Chelsea.
Worth Noting: The Football Ferns beat England 1-0 on June 1 in their final tournament warmup marking the first time a New Zealand soccer team has beaten England (male or female) at any level.
Past Form: Canada is 6-1-4 against New Zealand. Their last meeting was a 0-0 draw at the 2015 World Cup.
When: June 20.
Where: Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims.
Ranking: No. 8.
History: The Dutch reached the round of 16 in 2015, losing 2-1 to Japan in their only other trip to the tournament.
Qualification: Playoff wins over Denmark and Switzerland (both 3-1 victories) secured qualification after finishing runner-up to Scotland in group play. In all, the Dutch went 8-1-1 in qualifying.
Coach: Sarina Wiegman, named the Best FIFA Women’s Coach after leading the Dutch to the European title in 2017. Wiegman played with Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly at the University of North Carolina and won more than 100 caps for the Netherlands between 1987 and 2001.
Player to Watch: Midfielder-forward Lieke Martens (FC Barcelona) was named Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2017. That same year she was named UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 player of the tournament as the unbeaten Dutch won the European title. The 26-year-old Martens scored the Dutch women’s first-ever goal at the World Cup, in a 1-0 win over New Zealand in 2015
Worth Noting: The Dutch were co-winners of the 2018 Algarve Cup, sharing the title with Sweden after bad weather forced cancellation of the final.
Past Form: Canada is 9-0-3 against the Dutch. The two teams tied 1-1 when they met in the group stage at the 2015 World Cup.