The group stage of the women’s football tournament at the 2020 Summer Olympics is set. The three groups are labeled as E, F and G. Each group contains four teams that will play against each other in a round-robin format.
The four teams of Group G are Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. Here are the players from each team that we think will make an impact during the Summer Games.
Australia: Sam Kerr
The Matilda’s opened their Olympics campaign on Wednesday against New Zealand in Group G. A player who already got on the scoresheet in that game but will be undisputedly look to bring gold back to Australia will be Sam Kerr.
The centre forward has impressed viewers across the globe after a spectacular season with Chelsea in the Women’s Super League.
Kerr was presented with the 2020/21 WSL Golden Boot award after finding the back of the net on 21 occasions. She beat out Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, who features for the Netherlands at the Olympics. Kerr was her club’s top-scorer for the season with 27 goals in all competitions.Embed from Getty Images
As captain of the Australian national team, Kerr will be eager to add to her club success. Under Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, Kerr has won back-to-back WSL titles, two continental cups and a community shield.
Her club record is one to frighten any opposing defenders. She is also the first player to win the golden boot in three different leagues, including the NWSL and Australia’s W-League.
The 27-year-old has tremendous pace and will look to exploit the space in behind the defence. She has a tendency to create a lot of goal-scoring opportunities throughout the course of a single match.
The Matilda’s will play the US and Sweden in their upcoming group stage matches. For Kerr, these matches pose as stepping stones in her quest for Tokyo glory.
New Zealand: Ria Percival
As New Zealand’s most capped player, Ria Percival makes up a vital part of any team she plays in. The defender, who currently plays in the WSL with Tottenham, made her senior international debut in 2006.
The Tokyo Olympics will mark Percival’s fourth Summer Games after making her first Olympic appearance in 2008. Her eight major international tournaments have proven just how vital the fullback is for her country.
The 31-year-old comes into these games with an impressive amount of experience. As the first player to reach 150 caps for New Zealand, Percival will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience for her younger teammates. When faced with opponents such as the US and Sweden, Percival’s defensive talent as well as her wealth of experience could prove pivotal.
Along with her role in defence, Ria can also step into the midfield when required. This versatility no doubt made her an easy selection for New Zealand’s head coach Tom Sermanni.
Sweden: Caroline Seger
When Sweden rehearsed for the Olympics against Australia back in June, Caroline Seger became not only the most capped player in Sweden, but in all of Europe. As she led the Swedes out to take on the Matildas in Kalmar, she collected her 215th cap. This broke the record held by legends Birgit Prinz of Germany and Therese Sjögran of Norway.
Seger’s journey in the Swedish national team began back in 2005. She made her debut against Germany during the Algarve Cup. Later that year, she played her first big international tournament at the European Championships in England.
Now, 16 years later, Seger is Europe’s torch-bearer for number of international appearances. The Swedish captain can come full circle if she takes part in next summer’s Euros in England. However, Seger will first have her sights set on winning gold at the Olympics.
To read more on why Caroline Seger could prove crucial for Sweden at the Summer Games, click here.
United States: Samantha Mewis
In the history of women’s soccer, a specific phenomenon has yet to occur: a national team winning an Olympic gold medal after winning the World Cup. The desire is in every World Cup-winning team to make history and prove to the world once again that they are the best. It seems like a lifetime has passed since the Women’s World Cup. Because of this, there’s one word that represents the mindset of all 12 Olympic teams: hunger.
To compete on such a grand stage is an honor. Yet, the hunger to take home a medal is what really drives each team. One team that the world particularly has their sights set on is Team USA. They are in prime position to make history and become the first team to win a WWC and an Olympic gold medal back-to-back.
With Team USA, the squad depth can be explosive no matter who is on the pitch. Determining who is the most impactful player is a difficult task. Though, the one player who will make a difference during this Olympic campaign is Samantha Mewis.
Every USWNT fan will tell you that Mewis is a key component in the team’s recent success. This past season, Mewis also played with Manchester City in the Women’s Super League and proved that she was more than just a key component. Mewis became a threat abroad and quickly adapted to the rapid gameplay seen in Europe.
In the Patriot Ledger, City’s coach Gareth Tayor stated, “I probably didn’t expect her to have the kind of immediate impact that she had… that’s probably due to her big personality. She’s a real leader within the group who leads more by example. She is very important among the players in terms of driving the standards and driving the work ethic. What I love about her is the fact that she’s never beaten. She’ll never give up until it’s really impossible not to win. She’ll be there until the very end.”Embed from Getty Images
During her time at Manchester City, Mewis was able to bag 12 goals in 24 matches. While her impressive stats were nothing new, it seemed like the goals started to come more easily for her. In addition, her movement on and off the ball appeared to be more fluid and precise.
When Mewis arrived at the latest USWNT outings, it was evident that she had grown. Her development abroad was just what the USWNT needed to maintain a lethal midfield. Alongside Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, and Kristie Mewis, there has been an increased abundance of connectivity and creativity in the US midfield. Individually, the “Tower of Terror” has become more than just a set piece master, but an all around competitor with an eye for goal involvement.
During the build up to the Olympics, Mewis scored five goals out of 12 matches stretching from January to the beginning of July. These international friendlies emphasised the pressing matter that it would have been a huge mistake by head coach Vlatko Andonovski to not include Mewis on the Olympic roster. After all, the 28-year-old midfielder put in statement performances during every given opportunity in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020.
Mewis’s personality and leadership has grown expediently, making her a key player to watch for during the Olympic campaign. Watching Mewis take her European stint and bring elements to this American side has been a major talking point. Alongside some of Team USA’s veterans and playmakers, one can best believe that Mewis’s presence and leadership will provide a pathway to earning another Olympic medal. Hunger is in the sights of Team USA. The mission is to simply win and prove that they are the best in the world.