Women’s World Cup Correspondent
Last night, Japan become the only Asian representatives to pick up point on the first match day of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France so far. However, it was Argentina who was celebrating at the end of a goalless draw at Parc des Princes, as it was their best result against the 2011 champions.
For Argentina, this was their third World Cup campaign after 2003 and 2007, and their second time facing the Nadeshiko at the tournament. In 2003, Japan trashed Los Albiceleste 6-0.
In Argentina, women’s football was inactive for years before they had a speedy and significant development in the last two. Meanwhile, Japan have been rebuilding the team after the 2011 success, hoping to achieve something this tournament, and at the summer Olympics which they will host next year.
Nadeshiko looked dominant as they got the first chance after just 10 minutes. Risa Shimizu delivered a cross into the penalty box from the right side which was headed by Yuika Sugasawa but went straight at goalkeeper Vanina Correa. The Argentinian shot-stopper reversed her decision of retirement after Argentina qualified for the World Cup this year.
15 minutes later, Japan got another chance from Narumi Miura’s shot from outside the box, but the 21-year-old midfielder from NTV Beleza was unable to find Los Albiceleste net. Argentina’s defenders did well to keep the game goalless for the first half.
Again Nadeshiko got another chance at the 50th minutes as Kumi Yokoyama blasted what seemed a perfect shot from outside of the box. Goalkeeper Vanina managed to parry, giving Japan another chance on the rebound. However, striker Sugasawa was unable to make the most of the golden opportunity.
Argentina became more encouraged to attack for the last 15 minutes, they got a chance from Florencia Bosegundo at the 73rd minutes running down the right side and blasting a shot which was ultimately saved by Ayaka Yamashita.
Los Albiceleste’s captain Estefania Banini, who was on loan from American club Washington Spirit to Spanish side Levante, looked dominant and lead Argentina’s counter-attacks, drawing several fouls from the Japanese players. The winger was ultimately given the Player of the Match award.
At the end of the match, Japan looks quite dominant with a 61% ball possession, 8 attempts on goal, 3 on target, 5 corners and 8 free kicks. But Carlos Borrello’s side struck to a solid defensive structure and managed to weather the storm to collect an impressive point.
Both team now share the spot on the 2nd and 3rd rank of Group D as England lead the group after claiming a victory over Scotland. The game will be massive for Japan as they will be seeking points from Scotland, while the Lionesses meet Argentine in Le Havre.
Canada Win Against Cameroon
Meanwhile, in Montpellier, Canada grabbed a narrow win against African representative, Cameroon. The hosts of the last edition looked dominant as the senior and youngster duo in front, Christine Sinclair and Nichelle Prince, presented quite a threat the Cameroonian defenders.
But The Cannucks must be thankful for Lyon defender, Kadeisha Buchanan, who scored the game’s only goal right before the half-time. She got on the end of a cross by Manchester City player, Janine Beckie, from a corner kick on the right side. Kadiesha made her way to the far post managed to head the ball towards into the back of Annette Ngo Ndom’s net.
The last day of the first round will be quite interestingNew Zealand will meet the reigning champions of Women’s EURO Cup, Netherlands, in Le Havre. Meanwhile, Chile meet Sweden in Rennes.
The last Asian representatives, Thailand, will play against reigning World Cup Champions the United States in Reims on Wednesday. It will be a hard match for the Chabakaew, but they may just be able to give a surprise for the USWNT.