Olympic Recap: Day Three
by Tiffany Weimer
Day three concluded group play for all teams and determined exactly what the quarterfinals would look like. Here’s a recap of what happened:
Japan vs. South Africa
If world rankings had anything to do with the outcome of matches, a 0-0 draw between Japan (3) and South Africa (61) would never happen.
But as we found out later in the day, there was a plan behind Japan’s lack of scoring:
“It was the coach’s instruction that we wanted to stay in Cardiff and come second in the group, so I knew that the bench were getting information about the other match and I had been told,” Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu said. “It is something we needed to do in order to get a medal.”
That would explain why seven of the 11 starters from the previous game were on the bench and why they were lobbing balls in from the flanks as if they were a bigtime aerial team all of a sudden.
Disheartening to say the least. Japan was hoping to avoid France, but with an unexpected turn of events, Brazil lost to Great Britain and now Japan will face Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Nevertheless, South Africa stuck to their game plan and did everything they could to not allow Japan to score.
In doing so, South Africa will go home with their first-ever Olympic point.
My opinion: regardless if Japan were trying to score or not, I don’t think that’s something a coach or a player should admit to the press. South Africa needed that tie for much more than to play a less difficult team and to stay in the same city and my hope is that it doesn’t affect the support they receive once they return home.
U.S. vs. North Korea
In another chippy match for the U.S., North Korea came out looking to clinch their place in the next round, while the U.S. had already advanced. A 25th minute goal by Abby Wambach ensured the U.S. would go undefeated in group play for the first time since the 2003 World Cup.
Alex Morgan received a chipped ball in the box that she was able to take out of the air, then split two defenders to find an open Wambach who had time to easily slot the ball in the side netting.
North Korea brought the intensity against the U.S. though. Of the three teams the U.S. faced in group play, the North Koreans seemed to be the most fit, able to last a full 90 at what seemed to be 100 miles an hour.
Aside from an 81st minute red card to North Korea’s Mi Gyong Choe, and a handful of unnecessary fouls, I would say it was a good showing for a very young team.
For the U.S., it was refreshing to see how comfortable left back Kelly O’Hara looked. She won tackles on the flank and got forward when she was able to. She looked like a natural.
The U.S. attack didn’t look as dangerous as it has in the past. For the next few matches, they’ll need to find that rhythm again and play more 1 and 2 touch soccer in the final third.
Here are game reports from rest of the matches:
With the way things ended today, here are the quarterfinal matchups:
Friday August 3rd
Sweden vs. France
United States vs. New Zealand
Brazil vs. Japan
Great Britain vs. Canada
Tiffany Weimer grew up in Connecticut where she earned herself the opportunity to play soccer for Penn State University. She holds the Big Ten all-time goals record (91) and was a 2x runner up for the Hermann Trophy. From Penn State, Tiffany played for many teams all over the world, had a handful of call-ups to the US U21 and senior women’s national teams and at 29 years of age, continues to enjoy scoring goals for her team. In 2010, with co-founder Khaled El-Ahmad, Tiffany created Our Game Magazine and has been at the helm ever since. Aside from the magazine and playing, Tiffany is also involved in coaching for girlsCAN Football and blogging on her personal site.