FIFA Women’s World Cup: The Road to Tokyo

Bragging rights are up for grabs as England and Scotland face off against each other at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France - but Olympic qualification is also on the line.

Last October, it was announced that the football associations of the four home teams had agreed to allow a British women’s team to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

England and Scotland meet at Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium in the opening match of Group D and the former have been nominated as the team to qualify the spot for the home nations for next year’s Olympic Games – to do this, they must finish as one of the top three European nations at the 2019 World Cup.

Team GB last played in the Olympics during London 2012, where the women’s side made the quarter-finals before being knocked out courtesy of a 2-0 loss to Canada in their maiden Games.

One player who missed out on taking to the field at London 2012 was Toni Duggan – but the England forward has always thought about being an Olympian.

“I’m very excited. I was unfortunate to miss out and be so close yet so far at London 2012,” said the 27-year-old.

“It’s always something that’s played on my mind, being an Olympian, so hopefully we get there and do the job at the World Cup.

“I’d love nothing more than to go to Tokyo.”

England’s Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Karen Carney and Ellen White were all involved in London, as well as Scotland’s Kim Little.

Scotland are one of four teams making their debut at the tournament while England finished third at the 2015 edition in Canada – those two teams are joined in their group by 2011 champions Japan and Argentina.

Both sides have star players amongst them, including those who have played at World Cups before and those who haven’t.

England’s Lucy Bronze made the move from Manchester City to Olympique Lyonnais in 2017 and this season, the defender won the Champions League, as well as the French league and cup to seal the treble.

The 27-year-old was shortlisted for the 2018 Ballon d’Or and scored twice in six games at the 2015 World Cup.

Bronze’s team mate Nikita Parris is the all-time top scorer in the FA Women’s Super League and she completed a domestic cup double with Manchester City this season, lifting the Women’s League Cup and the FA Cup. The 25-year-old also won the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award before announcing her move to Lyon for next season.

In the Scotland camp, midfielder Little missed out on the 2017 European Championships through injury, but the attacking midfielder is one of her side’s pivotal stars. The 28-year-old, who plays for Arsenal, has scored 53 times in 133 appearances.

Chelsea’s player of the year Erin Cuthbert is another member of Scotland’s squad. The 20-year-old has made 26 appearances for the national side, scoring seven goals, including a wonder-strike in a 3-2 victory against Jamaica before the tournament.