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The Best FIFA Women's Coach

The Finalists

  • Nils NIELSEN

  • DEN
  • In charge of Denmark's women's team since 2013, Nils Nielsen made up for the disappointment of missing the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ with a superlative campaign at the recent continental finals. The Greenland-born coach steered his side to UEFA Women's EURO 2017 with an impressive qualifying record, and he promptly took them all the way to the final in the Netherlands before the hosts triumphed 4-2 in the decider. The highlight of that historic run was a quarter-final victory against Germany, a feat no team had achieved in any of the six previous editions. Denmark caught the eye with a 4-4-2 formation built on a highly experienced rearguard – his defensive quartet boasting over 350 caps between them – while explosive duo Pernille Harder and Nadia Nadim provided the firepower further forward. That approach has now made Denmark a force to be reckoned with in the women's game.
  • Gerard PRECHEUR

  • FRA
  • Lyon coach Gerard Precheur was always going to have a tough time matching his achievements of 2015/16, a treble-winning season that yielded trophies in the UEFA Women's Champions League, French league and French Cup. Nevertheless, he rose to the challenge. Les Fenottes defended their French crown with an eight-point gap over second-placed Montpellier and won the two knockout competitions with final wins against Paris Saint-Germain, both times edging dramatic penalty shootouts. Each of those triumphs carried the stamp of the talented, ambitious and demanding coach at the helm. "A fan," in his own words, "of possession-based football and through balls beyond defences," Precheur is now free to implement his philosophy with a new set of players. He stepped down from his Lyon role in June 2017, but not before ensuring his status as a true club legend.
  • Sarina WIEGMAN

  • NED
  • Sarina Wiegman led the Netherlands to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 title on home soil. The hosts’ brand of attacking football brought an end to Germany’s run of six successive European trophies. “It’s great that a team other than Germany have become European champions,” said Wiegman after the final. “It shows that the level of women’s football is much higher now.” After studying in the USA, the former midfielder spent around a decade playing in the Dutch top flight, where she won two league titles and one domestic Cup. Wiegman was capped 104 times by the Netherlands before finding employment as a youth coach with the KNVB. She went on to win the championship and national cup with two different Dutch sides as head coach before returning to the KNVB, where she served as a scout and assistant coach to the women’s national team. She has been in charge of the Oranje Leeuwinnen since 2015.

The Candidates

  • Olivier ECHOUAFNI

  • FRA
  • Appointed coach of France's women's team after their disappointing Women's Olympic Football campaign at Rio 2016, Olivier Echouafni quickly got his demoralised side back on track. Putting fresh emphasis on hard work and humility, two of his most cherished values, the new man in charge oversaw a string of encouraging results. That included victory in March this year at the SheBelieves Cup – a friendly tournament featuring four of the top five teams in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Echouafni and his players rebuilt confidence over a ten-month unbeaten run before being brought back down to earth at UEFA Women's EURO 2017, losing in the quarter-finals to England - an outcome that contributed to him departing his post in August 2017.
  • Emma HAYES

  • ENG
  • A well-travelled coach who has spent a large part of her career in the USA, Emma Hayes is now back home in London at Chelsea Ladies, and 2017 has proven to be her most fruitful year yet as coach of the Blues. The FA Women’s Super League’s Spring Series, an interim tournament designed to bridge the gap between a shift in calendar for the women’s game in England, saw Chelsea emerge victorious thanks to a mean defence and a potent strikeforce. In an eight-game league, goal difference proved pivotal, and thanks to six clean sheets in those eight games, and notching a remarkable average of four goals per game, Chelsea’s vastly superior goal difference saw them clinch the title over Manchester City Women.

  • GER
  • Ralf Kellermann has been an undisputed figurehead of German women's football coaching for many years. In almost a decade of managing Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg between 2008 and 2017, he transformed them from footballing minnows into one of the strongest teams in Europe. The 2014 FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year stepped down this summer to concentrate on his new role as the club's sporting director, but not before leading the She-Wolves to another German championship and DFB Women's Cup double.
  • Xavier LLORENS

  • ESP
  • Xavi Llorens ended an 11-year stint in the Barcelona women’s dugout by winning the Copa de la Reina and taking the club to the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the very first time. Though the Liga crown evaded his side’s grasp, their title tussle with eventual champions Atletico Madrid went to the final day.As he himself has said, however, his greatest achievement was not winning titles but overseeing the transition of the women’s team from an amateur to a professional set-up in 2015. And in championing the development of women’s football at Barcelona, Llorens also upheld the club’s ongoing commitment to a possession-based passing game. 
  • Florence OMAGBEMI

  • NGA
  • Following a distinguished playing career during which she featured in four FIFA Women's World Cups™ and graced the Olympic Women's Football Tournament, former midfielder Omagbemi moved into coaching to continue her personal quest to further the game's development in Africa. After cutting her teeth with the Nigeria Football Federation as an assistant coach at youth level, she subsequently took the reins of the senior national team. Last year, Omagbemi led the Super Falcons to their eighth CAF Africa Women's Cup of Nations title. Having lifted the trophy four times during her playing days, this also made her just the second woman, after Eucharia Uche, to win the competition as both a player and a coach. This achievement earned her plaudits aplenty; indeed, she was the sole female nominee for CAF's 2016 African Coach of the Year award.
  • Dominik THALHAMMER

  • AUT
  • Dominik Thalhammer caused a sensation with Austria at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 in the Netherlands. While simply qualifying for their first-ever Women’s EURO was a triumph, the Alpine republic continued their remarkable rise in the tournament itself, winning their group ahead of title favourites France and only exiting the competition after a penalty shootout with Denmark in the last four. Former Regionalliga player Thalhammer spent many years overseeing the men’s youth ranks at Admira Wacker Modling, where he became the youngest head coach in the Austrian top flight at the age of 33 in 2004. He has been in charge of the Austria women’s national team since 2011.
HWANG Yongbong
  • HWANG Yongbong

  • PRK
    Korea DPR
  • Renowned for being a tough taskmaster, the 48-year-old tactician boasts a wealth of impressive experience with the Korea DPR youth ranks. Following a runners-up finish at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, Hwang famously told that "failure is the mother of success". He duly kept plugging away and after guiding the U-20s to the semi-finals at Canada 2014, he got his reward at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016, where his team claimed glory in some style. In addition to tactical nous, Hwang prides himself on instilling great mental strength and versatility in his charges, enabling them to adapt to any scenario that a match throws at them.