So, this time it really is it. The end. Not of the Games, obviously – plenty more action there as yet – but of the Women’s Olympic Football tournament for London 2012. And what a tournament it’s been.
From something which, if we’re all being open and honest, was a minority interest for most, women’s football has surely been one of the breakout success stories of the entire Games in a mere two weeks. Not bad going for a supposedly inferior incarnation of the beautiful game.
Right from day one (or day minus-2 in the grand Olympic calender), the women’s tournament has provided endless entertainment and at least 4 individual matches which could be described as classics of the sport. From USA’s logic-defying 4-2 victory over France on day 1, via Team GB’s astonishing 1-0 victory over a superstar Brazilian team and Canada’s comeback 2-2 draw against Sweden to secure qualification to the knockout stages. Then don’t forget Monday’s game to end all games, the utterly indescribable 4-3 extra time victory for the US over Canada, a game in possession of every single individual element a football fan could ever wish for.
How, though, could the Final possibly top what has gone before? How about a match pitching the reigning Olympic Champions and perennial Olympic Finalists vs. the reigning World Champions? How about a grudge-match-rematch of the 2011 World Cup final which saw the US twice take the lead before being pegged back late in normal time and again during injury time? How about a match up between a team that admitted trying not to score in their final group game in order to progress down a simpler route to the final and a team which has shown guts and glory in equal measure, just when they have been needed? How about that? Tasty enough for you?
Logic dictates that a free scoring, tournament dominating US team spearheaded by the peerless Abi Wambach and bang-in-form Megan Rapinoe ought to take another gold medal to add to the US’ already impressive total, but logic, as we well know, has a tendency not turn up during sporting events, especially in the Olympics.
And if you’re still not convinced that women’s football has raised its profile during these games; if you needed a simple snapshot to demonstrate just how big this has become over the past couple of weeks, we’ll leave you with the clearest proof imaginable. A quick shout from one of the world’s most avowedly cool stars from Monday evening. Samuel L Jackson, over to you…
“MASSIVE HEADER by Morgan in extra time for US Soccer WIN!!! THRILLING SHIT!!! Go USA!!!!!”
Images from: (top) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/
(bottom) http://www.cbc.ca/player/Sports/Soccer/Full+Shows/ID/2059290058/ (Thank you!)