The ninth installment of the FIFA Women's World Cup starts in just a few days, and many eyes will be on the 32 teams taking part in the competition. While much of the attention will be on teams like the USWNT, who are aiming to make a "three-peat" after winning it in 2015 and 2019, or England, who come into this contest having won the Women's EURO tournament last summer, there will be some other teams also looking to make their marks - albeit in a different way.
Thanks to an expanded field, a record eight teams will be making their debut at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup this summer. Here's a brief look at these eight debutants and what their hopes will be for their first ever outing on the big international stage.
Current FIFA ranking: 72
The coach: Reynald Pedros, a former midfielder who played for the French national team, has been in charge of Morocco since 2020. Prior to his most recent appointment, he also managed Lyon's women's team, and led them to two Champions League and two league titles.
Key player: Skipper Ghizlane Chebbak is currently Morocco's all-time top goal-scorer. The 32-year-old, who plays her club football for local side ASFAR, has multiple accolades to her name, including being named as the player of the tournament at the Women's AFCON as Morocco secured an impressive runners-up berth in 2022. Chebbak, whose late father, Larbi Chebbak, was also an international footballer, will be one of the key protagonists for Atlas Lionesses as they seek to navigate their way through their first ever appearances at a World Cup.
DID YOU KNOW: Although based in Africa, Morocco are viewed also as the first ever Arab country to secure a spot at a Women's World Cup. All in all, Morocco's involvement means that the CAF have four representatives at a Women's World Cup for the first time in history. The Atlas Lionesses finished as runners-up at the 2022 Women's AFCON competition, which is their best ever result since first qualifying for the tournament back in 1998.
Who's who in their group at the World Cup: Morocco will face Germany, Colombia, and South Korea in Group H.
Expectations: Will Morocco be able to be inspired by the men's team, who made history as the first African side to make it to a World Cup semi-final? The Atlas Lionesses did hold the likes of Switzerland and Italy to draws in recent friendlies, and fresh off their impressive performance at the 2022 Women's AFCON, will certainly fancy their chances to pip Colombia and South Korea to secure a knockout round berth. As such, they very well may end up being a surprise package at this summer's event, with a round of 16 spot - and perhaps more - not out of the realm of possibility.
Current FIFA ranking: 53
The Coach: 44-year-old Nicolas Delépine has been in charge of Haiti since 2022.
Key Player: 30-year-old Roselord Borgella is the most "senior" player on this young squad, and given her versatility as she has played in a variety of positions, Borgella will be a key part of Haiti's plans at this year's tournament.
DID YOU KNOW: Haiti have one of the youngest squads at this year's World Cup, with just one player, Dijon's Roselord Borgella, being over 30.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: England, Denmark, and China will be Haiti's opponents at the World Cup in Group D.
Expectations: An early exit looks to be on the cards for Haiti, who will have to face three top 20 sides - including EURO winners England - if they hope to qualify for the round of 16. Still, like many of their other debutants facing a tough ask, the players certainly will use this tournament as a chance to test themselves on the world's biggest stage and potentially secure transfers as a result of solid performances.
Current FIFA ranking: 77
The Coach: Bruce Mwape has been in charge of Zambia since 2018, and it was under his tactical guidance that Zambia secured third place at the 2022 AFCON Women's competition, as well as winning the 2022 COSAFA Women's Cup (a tournament for teams based in Southern Africa).
Key Player: She might be only 23 years old, but Barbra Banda is already a big name in women's football in not just her native Zambia, but across the entire African continent. Banda, who will be skippering her side this summer, is Africa's all-time top goalscorer in Olympic competitions and has netted a whopping 30 goals for Zambia, nicknamed the Copper Queens since making her senior debut in 2016.
DID YOU KNOW: Zambia are the first landlocked African country to qualify for a World Cup - both the men's and women's editions.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: Zambia will face Spain, Costa Rica, and Japan in Group C.
Expectations: Unfortunately for Zambia, their path to the knockout rounds looks to be a difficult one. Spain are the big favorites to finish as winners, but considering that they pulled off a very impressive 3-2 win over Germany in a recent friendly, Zambia just may be able to battle for second spot with Japan especially if they defeat them in their tournament opener. It won't be easy, but certainly, they will be full of confidence after an excellent result against Germany, who are currently ranked second by FIFA.
Current FIFA ranking: 22
The Coach: Vera Pauw is a highly-experienced Dutch tactician who has been in charge of Ireland since 2019 and previously managed other national sides, including Scotland, South Africa, Russia, and her native Netherlands.
Key Player: 27-year-old Katie McCabe is a well-known name for WSL fans due to her solid showings in the center of the park for Arsenal. The versatile midfielder has scored 20 goals in 70-plus appearances for her national side since making her debut in 2015, and after playing a vital role in Ireland securing their first ever World Cup appearance, will be one player her teammates will rely on if they want to have any sort of impact this summer.
DID YOU KNOW: Ireland recorded their biggest ever win in team history when they thrashed Georgia 11-0 en route to qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: Ireland will face Australia, Canada, and Nigeria in Group B.
Expectations: Unfortunately, the odds don't look good for the Girls in Green to get out of their group as they are truly in a very tough quartet. Although they beat fellow World Cup debutants Zambia 3-2 in a recent friendly, they were thoroughly overrun by France 3-0 in another warm-up tie. Nigeria are viewed as a stronger side than Zambia, while Canada are among the top ten teams in women's football. As for Australia, the Matildas are playing at home and will be spearheaded by Chelsea ace Sam Kerr, so all in all, it looks set to be a series of very tough exams for this debutant side.
Current FIFA ranking: 32
The Coach: Mai Duc Chung's team successfully secured their spot at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup after beating both Thailand and Chinese Taipei in the qualifying play-offs.
Key Player: With 67 goals, Huynh Nhu is currently Vietnam's all-time top goalscorer and will serve as captain of her team at this summer's World Cup. The 31-year-old striker is also the only member of her team to play her club football outside her native Vietnam, as she currently plies her trade with Portuguese side Länk Vilaverdense.
DID YOU KNOW: Vietnam's women's team are flying the flag for the country at World Cups, as the men's side have never qualified for the full competition.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: The USWNT, the Netherlands, and Portugal are the teams Vietnam will face in Group E.
Expectations: A baptism by fire is in store for Vietnam, who will have to take on the two finalists of the 2019 World Cup - the USWNT and the Netherlands as well as a Portugal side who will be determined not to leave their first ever World Cup without at least a point. Getting out of the group looks pretty much impossible, and as such, Vietnam will likely be more keen on trying to get something from their match against fellow debutants Portugal.
Current FIFA ranking: 21
The Coach: Francisco Neto has been in charge of Portugal since 2014, and successfully led the team to their first-ever EURO appearance in 2017.
Key Player: With a century of caps to her name, experienced midfielder Tatiana Pinto will be one of the key players for Portugal this summer. The 29-year-old was integral in Levante's impressive third-placed finish in Liga F, contributing 12 goals and three assists to help them secure a first round spot in the upcoming Champions League.
DID YOU KNOW: Under Neto's tenure, Portugal have qualified for three major international tournaments - EURO 2017 and 2022, as well as of course, the upcoming World Cup.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: Portugal have been grouped with the Netherlands, the USWNT, and fellow debutant side Vietnam in Group E.
Expectations: Portugal did post some solid results in their recent friendlies, namely drawing EURO 2022 winners England and comfortably beating Ukraine 2-0. However, given that they have not fared well in their prior international tournaments (where they finished last in their two EURO appearances), coupled with the fact that they will face both the World Cup reigning champions as well as the runners-up, it's hard to see Portugal getting out of this group. That being said, they will naturally be aiming to beat fellow debutants Vietnam to pick up a crucial three points and likely finish third in their group.
Current FIFA ranking: 52
The Coach: Ignacio Quintana has been in charge of Panama since 2021 and spearheaded their first ever qualification for a Women's World Cup.
Key Player: Washington Spirit's Riley Tanner, who was born in the US but was eligible to play for Panama through her mother, will be looking to show what she can do after scoring the winning goal during qualifiers to help Panama secure their first-ever World Cup berth.
DID YOU KNOW: Panama's 52th-place ranking by FIFA is the best ever result so far for the team in national history.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: Panama will play Brazil, France, and Jamaica in Group F at the World Cup.
Expectations: With heavyweights Brazil and France for company in Group F, it's safe to say that Panama really don't have much of a shot at getting out of their group. Barring a shocking collapse from either Brazil or France, Panama and Jamaica will be battling it out to avoid finishing last in the group.
Current FIFA ranking: 46
The Coach: Australian manager Alen Stajcic has been in charge of the Philippines since October 2021, but his name may be familiar to women's football fans from his time with the Matildas from 2014 to 2019. He made history as the first Australian coach to qualify for three World Cups, having done so twice with Australia prior to securing a first-ever appearance for the Philippines.
Key Player: 26-year-old midfielder Quinley Quezada was actually born and raised in California, where she played college soccer for UC Riverside, but after being snubbed by her birth country, decided to play for the Philippines, where her mother was born. To date, Quezada, who plays her club football for Serbian outfit Red Star Belgrade, has netted 22 times in 40-plus appearances for the national team and will be a key focal point for her squad.
DID YOU KNOW: The Philippines have never taken part in any FIFA competition, making the women's team the first ever representatives of the Philippines in a FIFA-sponsored event.
Who's in their group at the World Cup: The Philippines will face New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland in Group A.
Expectations: This is unchartered territory for the Philippines, who will open their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on July 21st, before facing New Zealand and Norway. Given their inexperience at this level, it's hard to see anything but a group stage exit for this debutant side, but certainly, the opportunity to play at a World Cup will be something many of their players (and fans) will remember for quite some time.
Where can I watch the 2023 FIFA World Cup?
With eight new teams all looking to make their debut, this year's World Cup is certain to be a very interesting one. There are plenty of options to follow the action, both live and on-demand, so make sure you bookmark our special broadcast page for viewing options geo-tailored to your specific location.