THE DAY REPLAYED – Being regarded as title favourites is one thing, but justifying such a tag is quite a different matter. Yet that is precisely what two-time champions Germany and 1999 runners-up China PR did after easing to victories on the first day of Round of 16 fixtures at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™.
Germany had a tough assignment against Sweden but nevertheless emerged 4-1 winners after a focused, disciplined performance right from the start. Meanwhile, China struck early on against tournament debutants Cameroon to pave the way for success, and their greater experience told in the latter stages of the match.
*Germany 4-1 Sweden
China PR 1-0 Cameroon
Goal of the day
*China PR – Cameroon 1-0, Shanshan Wang (12’)
*After a corner from the right floated across the penalty area, Dongna Li skilfully brought it down, skipped past a defender and, instead of going for goal herself from a tight angle, laid it off perfectly for Shanshan Wang to volley into the net. It proved to be the only goal of the game and was enough for China to seal their place in the quarter-finals.
*The last 16 tie between Norway and England is not until Monday 22 June in Ottawa, but it seems neither team could wait that long before heading to the city’s Landsdowne Stadium. Both sides turned up to witness the other all-European encounter between Germany and Sweden first hand from the stands.
*Sjogran hangs up her boots
*Sweden’s elimination from the Women’s World Cup also brought an end to a noteworthy career: Therese Sjogran, the country’s most-capped player of all time, had announced prior to Canada 2015 that she would retire after the competition. Not only was the 38-year-old the oldest member of Sweden’s squad at the tournament, she was also the first player from the Scandinavian nation to participate at four Women’s World Cups. Sjogran’s first outing in Canada marked her 15th finals appearance, a tally unmatched by any of her compatriots, and now her record stands at 18 games.
Cameroon bow out with heads held high
*Cameroon would do well not to let their Round of 16 defeat to China bother them for too long; after all, it is a respectable achievement for a tournament newcomer to progress beyond the group stages. Coping with pressure, unfamiliar circumstances and the high quality of the opposition in such a short space of time is no easy task. “We’re looking forward to causing a stir at the World Cup,” said coach Enow Ngachu before the competition kicked off, and his charges undoubtedly succeeded, even if they were unable to end a negative series of results for African teams at the tournament. No CAF side has ever managed to win a match in the knockout rounds at a Women’s World Cup.*
A decade on the touchline
**Silvia Neid took charge of her 14th Women’s World Cup game as Germany coach against Sweden, pulling ahead of Sweden’s Marika Domanski-Lyfors to go second in the all-time chart. The 51-year-old is still some way behind the record holder in this regard, however, with Norway’s Even Pellerud set to preside over his 25th tournament match when his side take on England.
*0 *– China maintained their perfect record against African teams at Women’s World Cup finals, recording their third victory without conceding from as many games. The Asians had previously beaten Ghana 7-0 in 1999 and 1-0 in 2003.
“I wasn’t expecting us to win by such a big margin, although in the build-up to the game I had a very good feeling, both for myself and for the team. Working hard for success and never easing up is just the way this team operates.” Germany midfielder Simone Laudehr had evidently anticipated her country’s match against Sweden would pan out rather differently.
*Sunday 21 June
Round of 16
*Brazil – Australia (Moncton Stadium, 14:00)
France – Korea Republic (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 16:00)
Canada – Switzerland (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, 16:30)
(All times given are local)