Women’s World Cup 2023: Cameroon handed tough draw in intercontinental play-off

BBC | Cameroon received the toughest possible draw in the 10-team intercontinental play-offs to reach the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The final three qualifiers for the expanded 32-team finals, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand, will be decided in Auckland and Hamilton from 18-23 February next year.

The Central Africans will face Thailand for the right to play top seeds Portugal in the Group A final.

Meanwhile, second seeds Chile await the winners of Senegal and Haiti in Group B.

Group C will see Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) come up against Paraguay and Papua New Guinea take on Panama before the winners of each tie meet for the final qualifying spot.

The latest Fifa world rankings, released on Thursday, were used to determine the top three seeded teams for the play-offs.

Cameroon paid the price for failing to achieve seeded status as they were handed match-ups with the highest-ranked sides in pot two and pot one when the draw was made in Zurich.

Seeking a third successive appearance at the Women’s World Cup, the Indomitable Lionesses must first progress past a Thailand side who also appeared at the 2015 and 2019 editions.

Both Senegal and Haiti have never appeared at the World Cup, while Chile made their debut in France four years ago.

Nigeria legend and four-time African player of the year Perpetua Nkwocha helped conduct the draw along with Lira Alushi, who helped Germany conquer the world in 2007.

Both admitted a tough journey awaits the unseeded teams.

“I’m sure we will see very interesting games, but for me Group A is the strongest,” said Alushi.

Nkwocha added: “It’s a very tough group for Senegal and Cameroon but I believe the opportunity is there for both teams.”

The group-stage draw for the tournament itself, which will take place from 20 July to 20 August 2023 in nine cities across Australia and New Zealand, will be held on Saturday, 22 October.

Holders USA will be looking to win a third successive title and lift the trophy for a record-extending fifth time, while European champions England, who are fourth in the world rankings, won all 10 qualifiers by an aggregate score of 80-0.

Intercontinental play-off draw in full

Group A: Cameroon or Thailand v Portugal

Group B: Senegal or Haiti v Chile

Group C: Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) or Paraguay v Papua New Guinea or Panama

Women’s World Cup 2023 qualified teams

Argentina, Australia (co-hosts), Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand (co-hosts), Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Vietnam, Zambia.

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