Debutantes have a rich history at the Women’s World Cup

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Based on recent events, the eight teams participating in their first FIFA Women’s World Cup are expected to face a formidable challenge as they begin their journey in the tournament

On 20 July, the Australia & New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will begin, with an increased participation of 32 teams instead of 24. Among them, eight nations will be making their debut in the tournament. However, based on the past experiences of tournament newcomers since USA 2003, it indicates that they have encountered considerable difficulties.

Haiti, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Vietnam, and Zambia are all gearing up for their first-ever participation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, set to take place in Australia & New Zealand in 2023. Some of these teams have genuine aspirations of advancing to the knockout phase. However, recent tournament history indicates that achieving these aspirations will require immense dedication and hard work.

Although the initial three editions of the prestigious women’s football tournament in 1991, 1995, and 1999 established a global hierarchy within the sport, the competition has proven to be a challenging arena for newcomers since the turn of the millennium.

In the 21st century, a total of 17 teams have made their debuts in the tournament, starting with USA 2003. Unfortunately, none of these teams have managed to reach the quarter-finals in subsequent years. In fact, only three of these teams have successfully progressed beyond the group stage in their inaugural attempts.

2015 stands as a momentous milestone

In the historic 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup, which introduced a field of 24 teams for the first time, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Cameroon all accomplished an impressive feat. The European duo secured their progression as two of the best third-placed teams, while the Indomitable Lionesses advanced by finishing second in their group, marking the most successful debut performance by a team in the last two decades.

Notably, Cameroon stands alone as the only team in this century to win twice in their inaugural appearance. Switzerland, propelled by an emphatic 10-1 victory over fellow debutants Ecuador, holds the distinction of being the highest-scoring first-time team in this century, netting an impressive total of 11 goals during their debut campaign.

The current conditions pose significant challenges

Colombia’s inaugural appearance at Germany 2011 turned out to be an unforgettable disappointment as they suffered defeats in all three of their group matches without managing to score a single goal. However, Colombia is not the only team that has encountered difficulties in finding the back of the net during their Women’s World Cup debut.

Five other teams, namely Argentina and Korea Republic at USA 2003, Ecuador at Canada 2015, and South Africa and Jamaica at France 2019, also struggled to score, resulting in their early exit from the tournament after netting only one goal each. To summarize, numerous teams, including Colombia, have faced challenges when it comes to scoring goals in their initial Women’s World Cup participations.

To sum up

Out of the 17 teams that debuted in the Women’s World Cup this century, only three have successfully advanced to the knockout rounds. Eleven of these teams failed to secure a victory in their inaugural tournaments. Among the six teams that did win in their first appearances, France accomplished it in USA 2003, while Switzerland, the Netherlands, Cameroon, and Thailand achieved it in Canada 2015, and Chile did so in France 2019.

Cameroon stands alone as the sole debutant team to progress to the knockout phase by finishing in the top two of their group, which occurred in 2015. In the 21st century, new teams in the tournament have averaged 1.65 points in the group phase. Given these historical records and odds, the eight new teams participating in Australia & New Zealand 2023 face substantial challenges. It is safe to say that they have been duly cautioned.


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