The Women’s World Cup begins on Thursday with a record number of teams. It will also be an excellent venue for the world’s finest performers to showcase their talents. Here’s a look at who’s anticipated to make a name for themselves in Australia and New Zealand, from up-and-coming players to veterans aiming to reach their peak performance.
1. Sophia Smith, United States
Smith has never participated in the World Cup, but the U.S. women’s national team believes she will be one of the clear-cut starting attackers. Over the past year, the 22-year-old forward has performed admirably for both his club and his nation, and he is now playing for the Portland Thorns. This season, he has scored 10 goals and provided five assists.
2. Sam Kerr, Australia
At her home World Cup, everyone will be monitoring Kerr, who hopes to maintain her status as one of the world’s greatest goal-scorers. Last year, the 30-year-old scored 29 goals for Chelsea in all competitions. He will be the most important figure for the co-hosts, who are a dark favourite to win the competition.
3. Debinha, Brazil
Debinha’s opportunity to flourish has arrived, as Marta prepares for her final World Cup and a large number of young players strive for stardom. She is one of the most entertaining athletes to witness at the World Cup due to her ability to score goals and execute graceful moves. The 31-year-old will be crucial if Brazil hopes to win their first World Cup and improve on their 2015 and 2019 Round of 16 exits.
4. Lena Oberdorf, Germany
The two-time World Cup champions have altered their roster over the past four years, with Oberdorf at the helm. The 21-year-old defender disrupts the opposing team’s play and has a deep understanding of the sport, which can help Germany win another championship. Oberdorf has also competed at the highest levels of his sport. In 2019, she was on Germany’s World Cup team, and in 2022, she was on Germany’s Women’s Euro team.
5. Keira Walsh, England
Walsh has been performing exceptionally well since signing a record-breaking contract with Barcelona last summer. She is rapidly becoming one of the world’s top central midfielders. The 26-year-old possesses exceptional strategic abilities and can play both defence and offence. This makes her the most crucial athlete for England at the World Cup.
6. Alexia Putellas, Spain
Patellas is without a doubt one of the greatest offensive midfielders in the world and has won the Ballon d’Or twice in succession, but he missed most of last season due to an ACL injury. She resumed playing in April, so she and Spain need to improve their endurance, but if she is healthy, she will be a formidable opponent. If not, Barcelona will rely on Aitana Bonmati, as she did last season.
7. Barbra Banda, Zambia
The Zambian attacker shocked everyone at the Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first woman in the tournament’s history to score back-to-back hat tricks, and it appears she’s preparing to give her opponents another challenge. Consider her recent accomplishments: she scored twice as Zambia defeated Germany 3-2 earlier this month.
8. Ada Hegerberg, Norway
The renowned forward rejoined the team prior to the 2022 Women’s European Championship. She missed the 2019 World Cup because she was attempting to get Norway’s football association to handle all players equally. She and her companion Caroline Graham Hansen will be keen to score at the 2019 World Cup after Norway was eliminated in the group stage in 2018.
9. Yui Hasegawa, Japan
Hasegawa is a creative midfielder, which is precisely what a club seeks in an offensive player. He has also played for a youthful and promising Japanese team. If Japan’s 2011 champions perform well in Australia, Hasegawa will almost certainly be the leader who leads Japan back to the grandest stage.
10. Kadidiatou Diani, France
Herve Renard has only had three months to train France as their new coach. Corinne Diacre was dismissed after Francesca Diani and two of her colleagues stated that neither she nor the federation was at fault. On the other hand, the attacker’s recent form will serve as a solid foundation for Renard’s ambitions with a strong France team. Last season, she tallied 30 league goals for Paris Saint-Germain and is capable of playing as both a winger and a centre-forward.
Golden Boot favourites
Alex Morgan, United States
Morgan, who is 34 years old, is still a goal-scoring threat. This year, she has tallied five goals for San Diego in the National Women’s Soccer League and two goals in seven games for the national team. She tallied six goals in the 2019 World Cup, matching Megan Rapinoe’s total. She tied the record for most goals scored against Thailand by netting five.
Sophia Smith, United States
The Portland Thorns’ 22-year-old striker leads the NWSL with 10 goals and 59 shots, making her the top scorer in the league. In addition, she is one of only two players in NWSL history to have scored multiple hat tricks in the same season. She also scored 11 goals for the US team in 2022, making her the youngest player since Mia Hamm in 1994 to be named US Soccer’s female player of the year.
Sam Kerr, Australia
Kerr, who is 29 years old, holds the record for most goals scored in NWSL history. She is also the first female to earn the Golden Boot in three divisions across three countries. She scored five goals in the 2019 World Cup, including four against Jamaica.