The group stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup concluded with a surprising exit of tournament favourites, Germany, on Day 15. A 1-1 draw against South Korea resulted in Germany’s unexpected departure. History was made as Jamaica, South Africa, and Morocco progressed to the knockout stages for the first time.
Football has often favoured the underdog, and this tournament was no exception. Although ranked second in the world and favoured to clinch their third title, Germany’s impressive 6-0 victory over Morocco turned out to be misleading. Subsequent challenges, including a 2-1 defeat to Colombia and a 1-1 draw with South Korea, revealed vulnerabilities.
However, it is important to commend Morocco for their resilience. After a devastating loss to Germany, they managed consecutive victories against South Korea and Colombia. Considering the competitive nature of their group, Germany’s early exit was self-inflicted.
Morocco wasn’t the only team to surpass expectations. South Africa stunned many by defeating Italy, a footballing giant, and securing their place in the next round. South African forward Thembi Kgatlana’s exceptional goal in extra time became the defining moment, leaving the crowd at Wellington Regional Stadium in disbelief.
In another turn of events, Brazil did not advance to the knockouts, a setback they hadn’t faced since the 1995 Women’s World Cup. Their performance was stymied by Jamaica’s rigorous defence, with a 0-0 draw that left the Brazilian squad in third place.
Meanwhile, the United States, the consecutive defending champions, narrowly avoided elimination. Following a comfortable 3-0 victory over Vietnam, their subsequent matches were less convincing. Yet, they managed a 0-0 draw against Portugal, ensuring their progression to the knockout stages. However, the once dominant US team now appears vulnerable.
Host nation Australia is having a commendable run, with the Matildas topping their group for the first time in Women’s World Cup history.