How will Group D play out in the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Part 4 of a series
The highly anticipated kickoff of the 2023 Women’s World Cup on July 20th will witness teams from all eight groups vying to leave their mark on the tournament.
This collection of teams sparks numerous intriguing questions some of which will be answered when England faces Haiti in the first match of the group. This game will go a long way in setting the tone for the group’s exciting journey.
First Place: England
The reigning champions of Europe possess superior overall talent, making them the favorites to convincingly top this group.
However, England enters the tournament with some notable setbacks. Following their triumph in Euro 2022, the Lionesses have been dealt blows with injuries to key players, including Beth Mead, the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner of the Euros, and captain Leah Williamson, both suffering anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
These injuries compound the significant void left by the retirements of Jill Scott and Ellen White, further indicating that this World Cup marks a transitional phase for Sarina Wiegman’s team.
Recent performances have shown a decline, as England’s 30-game unbeaten run under Wiegman was halted by Australia in April.
Nevertheless, if they maintain their focus and effectively execute their game plan, England should have the ability to secure the top spot in this group, despite their recent struggles.
Second Place: China
China has established itself as a seasoned participant World Cups, achieving runner-up status in 1999. They’ll be aiming to reach the knockout stages for the eighth consecutive tournament.
At the helm of the Steel Roses is none other than women’s football royalty, Shui Qingxia, a five-time Women’s Asian Cup winner and Olympic silver medalist. Taking charge in 2021, Qingxia has already experienced success with the national team, guiding them to a historic victory over South Korea in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, their first triumph in 16 years.
Her accomplishments led to her recent recognition as the Chinese Football Coach of the Year.
China boasts an impressive World Cup record, having advanced to the knockout stages in every edition.
While their defensive lineup, including the goalkeepers, consists primarily of young players, China possesses remarkable experience in the midfield and attack. Zhang Rui and Gu Yasha provide a strong presence in the middle, accumulating a combined total of 282 international appearances. Wang Shanshan and Wang Shuang lead the offensive line with a combined total of 96 goals.
To secure the top spot in the group, China would need to secure victories against Denmark and Haiti while aiming to cause an upset by defeating England in their final group match.
Third Place: Denmark
Denmark has ended a 16-year absence from the Women’s World Cup, marking a significant step in the right direction for the team.
Leading Denmark’s attacking line is the talented Pernille Harder, who will be making her World Cup debut. Harder showcased good form upon her return from injury for Chelsea towards the end of last season, exuding an aura that can change the game.
The squad also benefits from the stability provided by Katrine Veje, a key defender who leads the team in caps with an impressive 145 and counting. Additionally, Sanne Troelsgaard offers Denmark a reliable second option in terms of goal-scoring. Troelsgaard has netted 55 goals so far, second only to Harder’s remarkable tally of 70.
During Euro 2022, Denmark encountered challenges in adapting their game plan when solely relying on Harder. Following their group-stage exit that summer, they will need to exhibit greater attacking versatility and explore alternative approaches. Recent friendly victories against Sweden and Japan will undoubtedly boost the team’s confidence as they head to Australia for the tournament.
Fourth Place: Haiti
Haiti is set to embark on their Women’s World Cup debut, and their journey to the tournament has been truly extraordinary.
Despite facing limited funding and navigating national unrest and instability in their home country, Haiti’s women’s team managed to secure a historic World Cup qualification through the playoff tournament earlier this year in New Zealand. Their dramatic victories over Senegal and Chile have provided a beacon of hope and a much-needed breath of fresh air for the nation, as expressed by midfielder Danielle Etienne.
In addition to contending with the challenges at home, the team has had to confront the return of Yves Jean-Bart, the disgraced former president of the Haitian Football Association. Jean-Bart was banned for life by FIFA in 2020 after being found guilty of sexually abusing players. However, his ban was controversially overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February, eliciting strong criticism from Human Rights Watch and FIFPRO, the world players’ union.
Leading the way for Haiti is the remarkable talent of Melchie Dumornay, who has defied all odds to reach the World Cup stage. The 19-year-old has already made a name for herself in Europe through her impressive performances for Reims, and she’ll be joining Lyon after the tournament. Dumornay played a pivotal role in Haiti’s qualification campaign, and her heroic brace against Chile, as well as her memorable backflip celebration, will be etched in memory for years to come.
Haiti also possesses notable scoring options in their attack. The trio of Batcheba Louis, Roselord Borgella, and Nerilia Mondesir have collectively scored 61 goals, surpassing the combined total of 29 goals from the rest of the team.
Given the challenges they face in Group D, Haiti has an arduous task ahead. Their best chance to progress to the knockout rounds involve securing at least one victory and forcing two draws.