March 1, 2011

Algarve Cup - Group C Preview

Group C at Algarve is composed of four teams ranked from 37th to 47th in the world. This tournament offers these teams an opportunity to get four competitive matches under their belts and lets their coaches evaluate young talent.

None of these teams qualified for the World Cup. The closest was Chile, who finished third in Conmebol qualifying, just out qualification. Portugal, Wales, and Romania had varying success at the group stage of UEFA qualifying, but none seriously challenged for a spot. But with four fairly evenly matched teams and all with several young players on their rosters, this could be an entertaining group to watch.

Coach: Marta Tejedor
World Rank:
World Cup: Failed to qualify after finishing third in the Conmebol qualifying tournament.

Latest Results:
Conmebol Second Stage Playoff Round: Tied Colombia 1-1, Tied Argentina 0-0, Lost to Brazil 1-3.
Conmebol Group Stage: Defeated Ecuador 2-1, Lost to Argentina 1-2, Defeated Bolivia 3-0, Defeated Peru 3-1.

Cyprus Cup Roster:
Goalkeepers: Christiane Endler, Natalia Campos.
Defenders: Javiera Guajardo, Camila Saez, Nicole Cornejo, Carla Guerrero.
Midfielders: Francisca Lara (D/MF), Karen Araya, Yanara Aedo, Rocio Soto, Maria Mardones, Daniela Fuenzalida, Valentina Lefort.
Forwards: Maria Jose Rojas, Nathalie Quezada, Daniela Zamora, Yessenia Huenteo, Janet Salgado.

Chile is bringing a very young team to the Algarve Cup. At least seven players competed in the 2008 U-20 World Cup and four were members of the U-17 World Cup team from 2010. Chile just missed qualifying for the World Cup, finishing closely behind Colombia.

The top three offensive threats for Chile are probably Francisca Lara, Karen Araya, and Janet Salgado. Lara and Araya scored three goals each during Chile’s qualification run, Salgado added two. Araya is just 20 years old.

Christiane Endler is Chile’s top goalkeeper. Two defenders from the U-17 team will be in Portugal, Camila Saez and Nicole Cornejo. Chile is a team with a tremendous upside and the Algarve Cup should be a great experience for them.

Mónica Jorge
World Rank: #39
World Cup: Failed to qualify after finishing 3rd in UEFA Group 7.

Latest Results:
UEFA WC Qualifying (since July, 2010):
Defeated Armenia 3-0

Algarve Cup Roster:
Goalkeepers: Neide Simões, Jamila Marreiros.
Defenders: Ines Borges, Carole Costa, Kim Brandão, Sõnia Matias, Ana Borges.
Midfielders: Silvia Rebelo, Ana Cristina Leite, Elsa Ventura, Dolores Silva, Sofia Vieira, Melissa Antunes, Noémia Figueiredo, Mónica Goncalves.
Forwards: Carolina Mendes, Lissette Brandão, Claudia Neto, Carla Couto, Edita Fernandes.

The host Portuguese squad enters Algarve Cup play following a 3rd place finish in the group stage of UEFA World Cup qualifying. They probably accomplished about what was expected of them, losing both matches to Italy and Finland and winning both matches against Armenia and Slovenia.

Probably the most well known player to American fans is Kim Brandão, a defender who played college soccer for Rutgers and has played for several teams in the W-League, including the 2010 Buffalo Flash championship team. Edita Fernandes is one of the team’s most accomplished players with 90 caps. She scored five goals in qualifying at forward.

Other players to watch are defender Ana Borges, midfielders Sofia Vieira, Dolores Silva, and Mónica Goncalves, and forward Carla Couto. Neide Simóes is the Portuguese goalkeeper. She posted three shutouts in qualifying and held Finland to just one goal in another match.

The home team is sure to be a fan favorite at Algarve and they are in a group with teams of nearly similar stature, which should make for some interesting matches.

Coach: Maria Delicoiu
World Rank:
World Cup:
Failed to qualify after finishing 4th in UEFA Group 4.

Latest Results:
UEFA WC Qualifying (since July, 2010): Lost to Hungary 2-3, Lost to Ukraine 1-3.

Algarve Cup Roster:
Mirela Ganea, Roxana Oprea.
Defenders: Olivia Oprea, Elena Iuliana Pavel, Corina Olar, Teodora Dragoescu, Maria Ficzai, Monika Sinka, Tunde Mate, Ruxandra Elena Neagu.
Midfielders: Raluca Sarghe, Melisa Alexandra Iusan, Cosmina Dusa, Laura Roxana Rus, Andrea Herczeg, Stefania Iulia Vatafu, Georgiana Birtoiu, Ana Maria Stanciu.
Forwards: Florentina Spanu, Andreea Laiu, Zsuzsanna Sinka.

Romania also brings a young team to Algarve. They have four players under 20 years old and none over the age of 26. They finished a distant fourth in their group for World Cup qualifying.

Romania’s number one offensive player has to be midfielder/forward Cosmina Dusa. The 20-year old has been somewhat of a sensation in Romanian club soccer for CFF Olimpia Cluj, scoring a mind blowing amount of goals. Dusa scored five goals for the Romania in World Cup qualifying matches.

Florentina Spanu and Andreea Laiu are two of Romania’s top forwards. The midfield includes three 23-year olds in Raluca Sarghe, Melisa Iusan, and Laura Rus. Two of Romania’s most experienced players head the defense, Teodora Dragoescu and Corina Olar. Mirela Ganea is their goalkeeper.

This is another young squad looking to make progress and gain experience at Algarve. They are certainly worth a look, especially to see young Dusa.

Coach: Jarmo Matikainen
World Rank:
World Cup: Failed to qualify after finishing 4th in UEFA Group 8.

Latest Results:
UEFA WC Qualifying: Lost to Sweden 1-5, Defeated Azerbaijan 15-0.
Friendlies: Lost to Scotland 2-4, Defeated Bulgaria 8-1.

Algarve Cup Roster:
Rhian Nokes, Gemma Border.
Defenders: Sally Wade, Emma Jones, Nia Jones, Kerrie Manley, Jasmin Dutton, Kylie Davies.
Midfielders: Katie Daley, Josie Green, Michelle Green, Sophie Ingle, Sarah Adams, Jessica Fishlock.
Forwards: Loren Dykes, Laura-May Walkley, Gwennan Harries, Helen Lander, Emma Plewa, Cheryl Foster.

Wales won three of their eight World Cup qualifying matches, the most impressive of which was probably a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic. They enter this tournament without one of their experienced veterans, midfielder Jayne Ludlow, who is injured. Many of Wales top players play club soccer in England.

Gwennan Harries and Helen Lander combined for 15 goals in qualifying, although it must be said that nine of those came in a lopsided 15-0 victory over Azerbaijan. Still, it gives Wales two young forwards to build around. Harries plays for Everton in England. 56-cap veteran Cheryl Foster is another forward. Jessica Fishlock is a top offensive threat in the midfield.

Emma Jones is Wales’ most experienced defender. Rhian Nokes started six of Wales’ eight qualifying matches and is their number one goalkeeper.

Coach Jarmo Matikainen sees this as an opportunity for his team to play several matches together and build as a team.