June 22, 2024

Anything is possible: 5 memorable upsets in FIFA Women's World Cup

Anything is possible: 5 memorable upsets in FIFA Women
Art by Royce Nicdao

The FIFA Women’s World Cup has seen several memorable upsets since it was founded in 1991.

With the ninth edition of the quadrennial tournament beginning in about three days, many fans are on the lookout for underdogs can pull off the miracle runs in the beautiful game's grandest stage.

The Philippines are arguably among those underdogs who hope to make noise in Group A

With that in mind, here are the five most memorable upsets in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

1. Japan shocks Germany (2011)

During the 2011 FIFA World Cup, Germany, a two-time champion and host nation, was heavily favored to win the entire thing. Japan, on the other hand, was considered the underdog that year.

When the Japanese knew they were facing Germany after they advanced to the quarterfinals, footballer Azusa Iwashimizu admitted in a FIFA+ documentary they faced a tall task.

"We felt that next game would be our last of the tournament."   

After a goalless match for 90 minutes, Karina Maruyama's decisive goal in the 108th minute left the host team in a state of shock.

Japan not only defeated Germany, they continued their streak by beating Sweden in the semis, and then the top-ranked United States in the final to become the championswriting a historic fairy tale run.

2. Colombia defeats France (2015)

One of the biggest upsets in the FIFA Women’s World Cup came in 2015 during Colombia's clash with France in their group stage matchup.

Colombia, ranked 28th in the world at the time, entered the pitch for only their second appearance in the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Their previous participation in 2011 had resulted in a winless campaign.

In contrast, France, ranked 3rd in the world, was expected to perform strongly and progress far in the tournament.

But that wasn’t the case as Colombia dumped France for 2-0 win.

3. Australia frustrates Brazil (2015)

Another major upset happened during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Despite Brazil's dominant performance in their previous three matches, Brazil seemingly found their match against Australia.

In a stunning turn of events, Australia secured a shocking 1-0 victory, thanks to Kyah Simon's clutch goal in the 80th minute.

As a result, Marta and the Brazilians, who were also favorites in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, once again faced disappointment as their championship hopes were erased.

4. North Korea surprises Denmark (1999)

In 1999, Denmark had already established a significant presence in the world of soccer, being regarded as a strong contender heading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With the Danish gaining a formidable reputation as the team to watch out for, they were heavily favored in their match against North Korea.

However, to everyone's surprise, Denmark suffered a crushing defeat, and it was North Korea who emerged victorious, 3-1.

5. China outlasts Sweden (1995)

The 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup carried even higher stakes as the teams not only competed for the coveted trophy and the title of World Cup Champions but also had an additional prize on the line.

This tournament marked the first time women would have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Football Tournament.

The quarterfinal match between China and the host team, Sweden, was a thrilling encounter that ultimately went down to a penalty shootout.

The intense back-and-forth exchange in the game had fans on the edge of their seats. In the end, China brought home the win with a 4-3 score in the shootout.

Although China didn't secure a top-three finish in the tournament, their win over Sweden secured their qualification for the Olympic tournament, allowing them to compete at the Olympics in women's football for the first time.