FIFA Women's World Cup
Colombia, Jamaica and Morocco seek quarterfinal spots at Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup

Colombia, Jamaica and Morocco seek quarterfinal spots at Women's World Cup

Published Aug. 7, 2023 11:32 a.m. ET

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — History will be made Tuesday in at least one of the Women's World Cup knockout games, where three teams try to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in their history.

Colombia, led by 18-year-old sensation Linda Caicedo, is trying to advance for the first time, four years after missing the tournament field. The Colombians made it to the round of 16 in 2015, were eliminated in group play in 2011, and failed to qualify in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 World Cups.

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Standing in the way of Colombia, ranked 25th in the world, is Jamaica. The Reggae Girlz are playing in their second consecutive World Cup — they were eliminated in group play in 2019 — and needed a GoFundMe campaign to afford the trip to this year's tournament.


Colombia won its group, Jamaica beat Panama and eliminated powerhouse Brazil with a scoreless draw to advance, and the winner of Tuesday's match in Melbourne will advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in team history.

In Tuesday's second knockout game, World Cup debutante Morocco will attempt to continue its historic first tournament with a win over France. Coincidentally, the two nations played to a 2-0 France victory in the semifinals of the men's World Cup last December in Qatar.

Morocco's women's team advanced as runner-up in Group H after back-to-back 1-0 wins against South Korea and Colombia. Morocco was the first Arab or North African nation to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, then became the first to advance beyond the group stage. Morocco was one of eight teams to make its tournament debut this year and the only one to advance.

Morocco, ranked 72nd in the world, will have a tough time making it to the quarterfinals when the Atlas Lions play France in Adelaide, South Australia. France is ranked fifth in the world and advanced to at least the quarterfinals in the last three World Cups, and finished fourth in 2011.

France was eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals in 2019 as the tournament co-host in a match played in Paris.


Two of the most dynamic scorers in the game meet Tuesday when Jamaica plays Colombia.

Khadija "Bunny" Shaw was an attacking force with Manchester United last season, scoring 20 goals in 22 league games and has now taken Jamaica into the knockout round. Colombia has emerging star Caicedo, who has two goals in the tournament amid questions about her fitness.

[Bob Marley's daughter lauded as 'fairy godmother' of Jamaican World Cup team]

Shaw hasn’t managed to find the goal yet in this tournament, as Jamaica has just one goal in the group stage. Shaw sat out of the match because of a red card in the opener against France.

Jamaica vs. Brazil Highlights | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Jamaica has played surprisingly well despite very little preparation.

"Our defending was something of a concern for us. We had really no games coming into the World Cup. We had a camp in Jamaica," Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson said. "Attending camp was very important. The main emphasis was, can we buy into defending? And I think right there and then, we saw something."

Both France and Brazil, considered among the top teams at the World Cup, were held scoreless by Jamaica. The Jamaicans lost every game at the 2019 tournament, their only other appearance.

"People always say, the best offense is defense," midfielder Deneisha Blackwood said.

Colombia, meanwhile, had its own upset of a European power in the opening round with a 2-1 win over two-time World Cup champion Germany. It was the team’s second win after defeating South Korea in the opener.

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The Colombians fell to upstart Morocco in the final match, but still finished atop their group to reach the knockout round for a second time.

Caicedo played the entirety of Colombia’s 1-0 loss against Morocco last week to allay concern about her health. She was seen dropping to the ground during a practice session ahead of the match against Germany.

When she was 15, Caicedo was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and believed she might never play again. But today she’s emerged as one of the game’s brightest young stars.

Colombia will be without Manuela Vanegas because of yellow cards in the group stage. Ana Maria Guzman, who like Caicedo is 18, will replace Vanegas.

Guzman said Caicedo is an inspiration.

"What Linda is doing for me and also every Colombian player, she’s our reference, she’s a symbol," Guzman said. "She’s a player that has proven that dreams can be achieved, and you have to work for that."


France, which reached the semifinals of last year’s European Championship, is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive Women’s World Cup.

Les Blues has lost just one of their last 11 internationals.

France rested several players for its final group game, including captain Wendie Renard and Eugenie Le Sommer, the country’s all-time leading scorer. Sakina Karchaoui, Sandie Toletti and Kenza Dali were also on the bench, as all three players are one yellow card away from a suspension.

Maelle Lakrar has played every minute of the tournament but the defender is a doubt against Morocco because of a thigh injury.

[No split loyalties for France, Morocco coaches ahead of World Cup clash]

Le Sommer said the French were surprised to learn they'd be facing Morocco in the knockout round: "It was a bit of a surprise, even if we know that anything is possible in football. Their chances were slim, but this is the beauty of it, to be able to go through even if the chances are so small," she said.

Panama vs. France Highlights | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

And now the French will try to play as the more dominant of the two teams.

"We are favorites and we won’t hide from it, we came here with a lot of ambition, and that won’t change because we play Morocco," Le Sommer said. "We approach every game the same way, we want to win. We have more experience than Morocco in this kind of tournament, it is their first World Cup, their first round of 16. So it is up to us to bring the best from ourselves to win this match."

Reporting by The Associated Press. 

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