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The Athletic - December 24, 2023

Women’s World Cup: How unprecedented access to data helped African sides thrive

By: Michael Cox

The rise of analytics has been one of sport’s dominant themes over the past decade, and is regularly cited as a way underdogs can close the gap to stronger sides. But data costs money. And in women’s football, money is often in short supply, particularly among less established nations.

Enter CAF, which struck a deal with data provider Opta that not only gave individual teams access to figures and video far beyond what they had previously enjoyed, but also allowed them to take an extra analyst to the tournament. It meant the African sides, regularly called ‘naive’ after defeats on the world stage, were more prepared than ever.

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