Man City Women are certain to have representation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year as both England and Scotland were the only two home nations to qualify for the competition.
The past international break saw thirteen City players representing their countries in the final round of group qualifiers before the play-offs, with England, Scotland, Denmark and Belgium in action against Wales and Kazakhstan, Switzerland and Albania, Croatia and Sweden, Romania and Italy; as well as Canada facing Brazil in a friendly.
England were the first British team to qualify as they beat Wales 3-0 at Rodney Parade in Newport on the 31st August.
Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Nikita Parris were the only four City player to start the game with Keira Walsh, Abbie McManus and Mel Lawley were on the bench; Walsh being subbed on for Jill in the final ten minutes. Parris and Scott got on the scoresheet alongside former Blue Toni Duggan, whose goal Parris was involved in and former City defender Lucy Bronze lifted the ball back in to Scott; claiming the assist.
Parris’s first goal was ruled out as offside, the forward, teammates, fans and manager Phil Neville already celebrating before the lineswoman raised her flag while Houghton had one of her famous free kicks saved brilliantly by Wales keeper Laura O’Sullivan.
The Lionesses then secured a 6-0 win over Kazakhstan on the 4th of September with Neville handing Gabby George, Lauren Bruton and Lucy Staniforth their debuts as well as first senior start alongside Leah Williamson, Hannah Blundell, Beth Mead and goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Keira Walsh captained the side at just 21 while Abbie McManus started in defence with Houghton, Bardsley and Parris on the bench; Jill Scott and Mel Lawley absent after having been sent home to rest following the Wales game.
Mead, Daly, Lucy Bronze and Izzy Christiansen all scored, Daly twice while Staniforth topped off her night with a goal.
While this was taking place, Scotland were in Albania hoping to get to qualify for their first World Cup. Shelley Kerr’s side were relying on Switzerland to draw with Poland after having beaten them 2-1 at home in the previous week and for their score to be better.
Jen Beattie and Caroline Weir started the game alongside former City striker Jane Ross while Claire Emslie was on the bench; the forward being subbed on for Lizzie Arnot early in the second half.
Kim Little opened the scoring within the first ten minutes but Megi Doci pulled one back for the hosts just before half time. Poland were still holding Switzerland at 0-0 so Scotland knew they had to come back out and put at least another past the Albanians to have a chance at qualification.
The moment came when Jane Ross made a deep run to connect with Beattie’s cross and head home the goal that would ultimately see Scotland through to their first ever World Cup.
Mayhem ensued at the final whistle as the players were joined by the substitutes, non-players and coaching staff, the Scotland National Team’s Instagram and Twitter filled with videos of the group celebrating on the pitch and in the changing room; ‘no Scotland, no party’ a favourite.
Tessa Wullaert and Nadia Nadim were also in action over the break, Wullaert for Belgium and Nadim for Denmark.
City’s number 25 started both games as Belgium beat Romania 2-0, Wullaert assisting Ella van Kerkhoven while Nadim also started Denmark’s games against Croatia and Sweden, scoring a 92nd minute equaliser in the first match; but both her and Mie Jans were on the losing side with a score line of 2-0 to Sweden. The results now see both Belgium and Denmark having to go through the play-offs in order to qualify for next year’s competition while Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Spain made the tournament at the first time of asking; Wales, Iceland and Austria missing out.
Janine Beckie also featured in Canada’s 1-0 win over Brazil in Ottawa in front of 16,128 people; the forward starting the game before being subbed off in the second half.
The Blues will be looking to start the new FA WSL season off with a win over the team who pipped them to the league and knocked them out of the FA Cup last year, with league debuts hopefully on the horizon for some of our new players. Kick-off is at 2pm at Kingsmeadow.