The buzz: Australia, which reached the quarterfinals in three of the last four World Cups, has been pointing toward the chance to play a World Cup final at home for years and the timing might be right. Superstar Sam Kerr, the team’s all-time scoring leader, is in the prime of her career at 29, having led Chelsea to four straight WSL titles.
Canada, the reigning Olympic champ, and Nigeria, the 11-time African champion, are two of more than a half-dozen teams who come to the tournament feuding with their federations, which could be a distraction.
Canada, led by the ageless Christine Sinclair, international soccer’s all-time leading scorer, threatened to strike earlier this season to protest funding cuts while Nigeria shorted players’ pay, then canceled a domestic preparatory camp. Omitted from the Nigerian roster was veteran MF Ngozi Okobi.