AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Haiti celebrate qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup after their victory in the 2023 FIFA World Cup Play Off Tournament match between Chile and Haiti at North Harbour Stadium on February 22, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

FIFAWWC Countdown: Day 61 - The Debutants

As we enter the final 10 days of Edge of the Crowd's 70-Day countdown to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, we're turning our attention to the history-makers of the tournament, the eight nations making their debuts at football's biggest spectacle.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 53

Method of Qualification: Inter-confederation playoffs (Group B winners)

Haiti made history back in February by prevailing in the inter-confederation playoffs, winning the two games required to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, against Senegal (4-0) and Chile (2-1).

To qualify for the Women's World Cup for the first time is an effort in itself after years gone by, but also the state of affairs in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, the team having been provided with no financial support and needing to play home games in the neighbouring Dominican Republic due to security concerns.

“To see a poor country like this be among the 32 best nations in the world in football is more than great. It has been a struggle for them to get to this level, but they are so gifted technically that it’s amazing," Richard Adrien, who managed the team from 2015 to 2020, said of the team's qualification.

The lead into the tournament since qualifying hasn't been the greatest for Haiti, winning just one game from the side's last six fixtures - a 3-1 victory against Moldova - heading into the Women's World Cup, needing to face three nations in Group D who sit inside the top 15 - England, China, and Denmark.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 72

Method of Qualification: 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Quarterfinal winners)

Morocco finished atop Group A at the Women's Africa Cup of Nations with a 3-0 record, beating Burkina Faso (1-0), Uganda (3-1), and Senegal (1-0). Morocco beat Botswana 2-1 in the quarterfinal to book a ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup. As the tournament progressed, Morocco beat Nigeria on penalties (1-1 (5-4)) in the semi-final, before going down 2-1 to South Africa in the Final.

In the past few years, Morocco has been able to reinstate its women's football structure and rebuild its women's football team which had long been neglected. The 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations was held in Morocco, and with a great amount of interest and home support, were able to reach the semi-finals.

It's been a mixed bag of results for Morocco since the Women's Africa Cup of Nations, with two wins, three draws, and five losses. Morocco still has one friendly left against fellow Women's World Cup-qualifying nation Jamaica on July 16, before a maiden FIFA Women's World Cup against top 25-ranked nations Germany, South Korea, and Colombia in Group H.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 52

Method of Qualification: Inter-confederation playoffs (Group C winners)

Panama was the last of the 32 nations to qualify for a spot at the FIFA Women's World Cup, winning the two games required in Group C of the inter-confederation playoffs against Papua New Guinea (2-0) and Paraguay (1-0).

Ever since the men's team debuted at the Men's World Cup in 2018, football in Panama has grown stronger, and it's translated into the women's team also with a slew of possibilities created. The women's football project to the 2023 edition of the Women's World Cup has been going on two years now, ready to create more history in Australia and New Zealand.

Panama has enjoyed a large amount of success since qualifying for the Women's World Cup, winning three games, losing two, and drawing one. Panama still has one fixture remaining - the MS & AD Cup match against Japan on July 14 - before facing the likes of Brazil, Jamaica, and France in Group F.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 46

Method of Qualification: 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup (Quarterfinal winners)

The Philippines qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup after a 1-1 (4-3) quarterfinal win against Chinese Taipei on penalties at the AFC Women's Asian Cup. The Phillippines had finished with a 2-1 record in Group B, before the quarterfinal, ahead of a 2-0 semi-final loss to eventual runners-up, South Korea.

Women's football in the Philippines has been steadily on the rise throughout the last decade, and the team came close to qualifying for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. The dissemination of the Philippines squad has provided numerous opportunities all over the world to take the team to the next level.

“We are very happy to be there. We are excited, we are proud and we are appreciating every moment. We are grateful that we have earned the right for this opportunity and we are respectful of an event that brings together the best female athletes on the planet. We have also raised the bar so high in the past 18 months that none of us will put a ceiling on how high that bar can go”, Philippines manager, Alen Stajcic, says.

Since the Philippines were one of the earliest nations to qualify for the tournament Down Under, the team has played 33 fixtures (19 wins, 12 losses, and two draws). Coming into the Women's World Cup, the Philippines are on a three-game win streak via 2024 Olympic qualifiers, taking momentum into Group A fixtures against Switzerland, New Zealand, and Norway.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 21

Method of Qualification: Inter-confederation playoffs (Group A winners)

Portugal made sure of its qualification to the FIFA Women's World Cup via a being the top seed at the inter-continental playoffs, advancing directly to the Group A Final where the side met, and won against, Cameroon with a 2-1 scoreline with a 94th-minute penalty from Carole Costa being the difference.

The highest-ranked debut nation at this year's Women's World Cup, women's football in Portugal has made great strides in recent years, with Portugal coach, Francisco Neto saying “It was a very tough objective, but we did it! It’s a feeling of immense joy, that must be shared with all the Portuguese people, the staff of all the clubs who helped these players, and the Portuguese Football Federation. I’m very emotional right now".

Since the qualifying fixture in February, Portugal has played four fixtures for one win, one loss, and two draws. At the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, Portugal will face the Netherlands, Vietnam, and the USA.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 22

Method of Qualification: UEFA playoffs (second ranking)

At the UEFA qualifying competition for the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Republic of Ireland finished second in Group A to enter round two of the playoffs. There, the team beat Scotland 1-0 to finish second in the ranking of playoff winners and punch a ticket to Australia and New Zealand.

It's been quite a change in attitude towards the national team in Ireland since the squad threatened strike action against their association six years ago citing being treated "like the dirt on their shoe". Until last year with the Women's World Cup qualification, the closest the Republic of Ireland got to qualifying for a major tournament was when the team made it to a Euro 2009 playoff.

“What heroes, what fighters, what tigers. We need to be realistic. We have performed so well as a team and that starts with not conceding. What was it that Jackie Charlton used to say? We’ll give it a lash", Republic of Ireland coach, Vera Pauw, said.

After qualifying for the Women's World Cup, the Republic of Ireland has contested six matches for two wins, three losses, and a draw. When the Women's World Cup begins, the Republic of Ireland will face Australia, Canada, and Nigeria in Group B.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 32

Method of Qualification: 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup (playoffs winners)

To qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup, Vietnam finished third in Group C, and second in the ranking of third-placed teams. Vietnam lost to China (3-1) in the quarterfinals but remained in the playoffs, beating Thailand (2-0) and Chinese Taipei (2-1) to qualify for Australia and New Zealand.

The historic moment of appearing in the nation's maiden World Cup is not lost on many within Vietnamese footballing circles, with coach Mai Duc Chung signifying "Participating in the World Cup is not only my dream, but the entire team’s. Not just for the women players, but also for the men’s team and the fans."

Since January 2022, Vietnam has enjoyed a large amount of success in international fixtures, winning 14 matches and losing seven. Vietnam has only more friendly against Spain on July 15 before heading into the Women's World Cup against fellow Group E nations the USA, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

FIFA Women's Ranking: 77

Method of Qualification: 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup (Quarterfinal winners)

Zambia qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup by way of winning a quarterfinal matchup against Senegal which went to penalties, the match finishing 1-1 (4-2). It was a tournament in which Zambia topped Group B with two wins and a draw to progress to the quarterfinals, before falling 1-0 to South Africa in the semi-final. Zambia came third overall with a 1-0 win over Nigeria.

The lowest-ranked nation at the FIFA Women's World Cup, Zambia made history when it qualified, becoming the first landlocked African nation to qualify for a senior World Cup, in either men's or women's competition. Zambia is one of Africa's fastest-rising teams, having also been the continent's only women's football team to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Women's football may still be developing in Zambia, but the national team is achieving success.

Since locking in a ticket to the Women's World Cup, Zambia went through the 2022 COSAFA Women's Championship undefeated, but since October, has mustered four wins, six losses, and one draw. When the Women's World Cup rolls around, Zambia will come up against Japan, Spain, and Costa Rica in Group C.

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