Better late than never, here's Germany's WWC squard.
Germany announce surprising team
Tuesday September 2
German coach Tina Theune-Meyer named her 20-woman team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 on Monday. The biggest shock in the list is the omission of striker Inka Grings. And while WUSA-based Conny Pohlers was assured of her place after impressing against Nigeria in Trier, Petra Wimbersky joins Grings on the sidelines.
As announced last week, two previously retired players, Maren Meinert and Steffi Jones, return to the team.
"In Maren Meinert and Steffi Jones we are welcoming back two massive players from the spine of the European Championship-winning team of 2001,” said Theune-Meyer explaining their recall. “Their experience and class can only benefit the team for the challenges which lie ahead.
"I believe we have assembled a strong team with alternatives on the bench,” the coach continued. “The returns of Maren Meinert and Steffi Jones will certainly help us. Now it is just a question of fine-tuning over the coming days and weeks."
Germany’s most capped women’s player Bettina Wiegmann is in agreement with her coach: "We have got a cohesive and balanced team with a good spirit and no cliques. I think we will have a big part to play in the World Cup".
12 of the 20 women were on the USA 1999, with Bettina Wiegmann set to make her fourth FIFA Women's World Cup appearance.
Group C players to watch
by LORI EWING, Canadian Press
A quick look at some players to watch in Canada's preliminary-round Group C at the 2003 women's World Cup, which opens Saturday in the U.S.:
Charmaine Hooper Age: 35. Position: Defence/forward. Caps: 101. Club: Atlanta Beat, WUSA. Strengths: While she's the country's all-time leading goal-scorer with 58 and considered one of the world's most lethal strikers, Hooper has been moved back to shore up Canada's defence that has been hit hard by injuries. But Canadian coach Even Pellerud will still call upon the fearless Hooper as an offensive threat - in Canada's 2-0 exhibition win over Australia, Hooper moved up to the forward line for a corner kick, heading in Canada's first goal of the game.
Hooper is the second all-time leading goal-scorer in WUSA and led the league in match-winning goals. She also led the W-League and Japanese L-League in scoring and holds the record for goals at North Carolina State.
A leader on off the field, Hooper is one of the most outspoken players in the game, and was vocal in her criticism of the Canadian Soccer Association after its poor performance and preparation at the 1999 World Cup.
Christine Sinclair Age: 20. Position: Forward. Caps: 51. Club: Vancouver Whitecaps, W-League; University of Portland. Strengths: Ranked sixth on the FIFA list of the world's best female soccer players, Sinclair has rocketed onto the international scene.
Strong and deft with a pass, the dynamic striker scored 10 goals in four games at the under-19 women's world championships in 2002 in Edmonton to earn the Golden Boot award as the top scorer, and the Golden Ball as MVP.
This past college season, Sinclair led the University of Portland to its first NCAA title, setting a tournament record with 21 points on 10 goals, beating the previous mark of six goals held by North Carolina star Mia Hamm. Sinclair scored two goals in Portland's victory over Santa Clara, one in extra time, en route to being named NCAA player of the year.
Sinclair sat out the Whitecaps season with mononucleosis, but is back in top form and leads a mighty Canadian striking force.
Kara Lang Age: 16. Position: Forward/midfield. Caps: 30. Club: Vancouver Whitecaps, W-League. Strengths: Since she was named to the senior side for the 2002 Algarve Cup at just 15, Lang has become one of the most celebrated female athletes in Canada.
Lang became the youngest player ever to be capped by Canada at the Algarve Cup and set the world record as the youngest player ever to score a goal in a full international at that tournament.
She's a player that can make things happen, a hard-charging attacker with a powerful shot, equally comfortable as a striker or midfielder.
Lang scored four goals in one game in a 9-0 win over Jamaica at the 2002 Gold Cup, and scored three goals in six games at the under-19 world championships last year in Edmonton.
Birgit Prinz Age: 25. Position: Forward. Caps: 102. Club: Carolina Courage, WUSA. Strengths: The talented centre-forward is Germany's best known women's soccer player.
A physically-imposing striker, Prinz led the Carolina Courage to a WUSA title in her rookie season, scoring 12 goals in 15 games to finish second in the league in scoring. She was named MVP of the Founders Cup II final, scoring a goal and setting up another in her team's victory over the Washington Freedom.
Prinz made her national team debut when she was 16, playing for the German side that won silver at the 1995 World Cup. In 2001, she was named the German women's footballer of the year, and last season was second to Mia Hamm for FIFA women's world footballer of the year.
Bettina Wiegmann Age: 31. Position: Midfield. Caps: 118. Club: FFC Brauweiler. Strengths: Dubbed Ms. Reliability by the German media, Wiegmann is known as one of the top centre-midfielders in the world.
Wiegmann was selected by WUSA's Boston Breakers in the 2000 international allocation draft, and was a mainstay in Boston's midfield for two seasons before deciding not to return for a third WUSA season because of injuries.
Wiegmann was member of the 1999 FIFA all-star team, and was named Germany's 1997 player of the year. She's 17th on the FIFA list of Players of the Century.
A member of the national team since 1989, Wiegmann's trademark move is the German Circle, which she uses to calmly shed a number of opponents, using dazzling footwork to escape danger.
Homare Sawa Age: 31. Position: Midfield. Club: Atlanta Beat, WUSA. Strengths: The five-foot-five Japanese captain quickly made a name for herself in WUSA with the Atlanta Beat, scoring the team's historic opening goal in 2001.
A key component for the Beat, Sawa was one of WUSA's most solid midfielders, scoring seven times last year.
The Tokyo native made her World Cup debut in 1995 when she was just 16, and started all of Japan's matches. She also played for Japan at the '99 World Cup, and 1996 Atlanta Olympics and has scored 48 goals in 79 international games.
Known for her slashing runs and dazzling ball skills, Sawa is a danger to the world's best defenders.
Marisol Medina Age: 23. Position: Forward. Club: Independiente de Avellanada. Strengths: Medina leads a team with little international experience, playing in its first women's World Cup. Despite the fact Medina didn't play full 11-a-side soccer until 1997, she was the top goal-scorer in the South American qualifying tournament for the World Cup with seven goals.
Medina first played on the national side in 2000 and is known for her long-range shooting.
But in a country famous for its mighty men's squad and soccer legends Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta, Medina and her teammates still fight for recognition for the women's game.
Germany ready for Canada
World Cup opener crucial contest for both countries
by John Korobanik, The Edmonton Journal, September 18, 2003
COLUMBUS - Striker Birgit Prinz and WUSA player of the year Maren Meinert spearhead a strong German team that would rather not have Canada in its grouping but is confident about its chances and comfortable with its preparation for the 2003 FIFA women's World Cup.
"I might not have wanted Canada, but I'm satisfied nonetheless," German coach Tina Theune-Meyer recently told FIFAworldcup.com. "Canada has developed into a very strong side over the last two years and has really grown in stature. They're clearly joint favourites of the group."
Germany, ranked No. 3 in the world, and No. 12 Canada meet on Saturday in the opening match of the three-week tournament for both teams. It is a pivotal match for both, and could ultimately determine who finishes first in the group and gets to avoid meeting intimidating China in the first playoff round.
"The most important game is the one against Canada," midfielder Sandra Smisek said in a recent interview. "It's the first game and Canada is definitely our strongest opponent in the group."
Smisek, from FFC Frankfurt, can see the Germans, a longtime dominant force in European soccer, advancing a long way in the World Cup, if they get by Canada.
"We just have to concentrate on Canada. Anything else would just be daydreaming."
Japan, which upset Mexico to get into the World Cup, and Argentina are also in the C group with Germany and Canada.
Prinz, Meinert and Smisek are just three members of a strong, well-balanced German squad that surprisingly is without talented scorer Inka Grings. The three-time leading scorer in Germany and a member of the country's 2000 Olympic bronze-medal team had played alongside Prinz to form one of the world's most dangerous striker units in women's soccer.
But Grings is still recovering from a damaged kneecap and torn ligaments, prompting Theune-Meyer to omit her from the side. Factored into that decision was the strong play this year of Meinert, who came out of retirement to be named player of the year in the Women's United Soccer Association.
"In Maren Meinert and Steffi Jones we are welcoming back two massive players from the spine of the European championship-winning team of 2001," said Theune-Meyer. "Their experience and class can only benefit the team for the challenges which lie ahead."
The pair made their return to the German side last weekend in a 4-0 victory over England that allowed Meinert to demonstrate that she hasn't lost the ability to give defenders fits on the left side.
Prinz said seeing the pair back in the German national colours was a boost for the squad and their World Cup hopes. "They are big-game players and we need them," she said. "We have a better chance of success with Steffi and Maren in the lineup; it's as simple as that."
While the Germans have been a force in Europe, it is their preoccupation with the European championship that may have hindered their chances in previous World Cups, in which they finished second in 1995 and fourth in 1999.
Germany kept together a veteran squad to win the European title in 2001 but since then has been scrambling to get younger players onto the team.
Theune-Meyer has two 20-year-olds on her side -- midfielders Linda Bresonik and Viola Odebrecht -- and a pair of 23-year-olds, defender Nia Kunzer and forward Martina Muller. Otherwise it is a veteran team, mostly over the age of 25 and including five women over the age of 30. By contrast, Canada has just three players over 30 and eight aged 20 or younger.
Germany's oldest player, 32-year-old midfielder Bettina Wiegmann, with 147 caps and 48 international goals to her credit, likes the makeup of her side, and after a long period of preparation that included numerous games against men's teams, she is confident of their chances.
"We have a cohesive and balanced team with a good spirit and no cliques whatsoever," Wiegmann said. "I think we will have a big part to play in the World Cup."