Japanese soccer women rose against history on Sunday evening to make the land of Rising Sun, the first Asian nation to win the Women’s World Cup defeating the USA.
Never before had Japan won the Women’s World Cup Soccer. Never before had any Asian nation won a Women’s World Cup Soccer. Never before had Japanese women soccer team won against the United States’ in World Cup in their previous 26 encounters. The bet was against Japan. The Japanese, many said, were doomed to lose once again. The US were outright favourites.
But when the USA was hardly four minutes away from becoming the first country to lift the cup three times, the 32-year-old Japan captain, Homare Sawa, flicked a corner through a jumble of players and past goalie Hope Solo in the 117th minute to take the contest to penalties. For the second time Japan had hit an equaliser. The match had entered the penalty shootout.
USA Today wrote: “Some of the players on the amazingly resilient U.S. women’s soccer team had started to believe, especially after the miracle against Brazil a week earlier, that they were a team of destiny.
But what if there are two teams of destiny?
Maybe that’s what happened Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 48,817 in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (in Frankfurt, Germany).”
Somehow, the shootout went awry for the Americans, and the Japanese won 3-1. Saki Kumagai put in Japan’s fourth try over Hope Solo, into the back of the net to give Japan and Asia its first World Cup, and first win over the United States.
The Guardian wrote, “Japan were always driven by a greater purpose, hoping their success at the World Cup could provide some emotional relief for a nation still reeling from the effect of 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
The team displayed a banner reading “To our Friends Around the World – Thank You for Your Support” before the final, and Sasaki inspired his players before the quarter-final by showing them pictures of the devastation.”
For a country still reeling from the devastating March earthquake and tsunami that killed over 15,000 people, it was quite a lift. The Time wrote, “Its soccer team could have cowered to the taller, stronger Americans. But it never did, and the Americans paid for it.”
adidas Golden Ball: Homare Sawa (Japan)
Japan skipper Homare Sawa ended the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 as the best player and the top scorer of the tournament. The midfield schemer, the driving force behind her country’s ultimate triumph was awarded the adidas Golden Ball and the adidas Golden Boot for her outstanding performance.
In her fifth appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Japan No10 deployed all her reserves of experience, skill and creativity, effortlessly linking defence and attack with intelligent passes. The icing on the cake was her clinically-taken haul of five goals.
Fifa.com wrote, “The 32-year-old superstar stamped her authority all over the finals, crowning her personal triumph in the final with a stunning 117th-minute equaliser to level the scores at 2–2, send the game into penalties, and ultimately realise her dream of global glory….
…Japan’s first-ever moment of glory on the global footballing stage will forever be associated with the 32-year-old’s consistently outstanding displays and priceless goals.”