Argentina’s dream of making into the second round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was cut short Wednesday with its 2-0 loss to Sweden, spelling the end of the tournament for the team. The Albiceleste needed a win as well as other results to break their way in order to have any chances of making it to the knockout round, and thus return home without their stated desire of getting their first ever World Cup win but with a collective sense of a positive balance.
“The legacy these players leave is incredible, so much attitude and pride. They’ve sacrificed so much, qualifying twice to a World Cup and having a great Copa América. It’s not easy for Argentine female football,” said coach Germán Portanova in the press conference following the game.
The match was tightly contested in the first half and ended in a 0-0 draw, a result that left Argentina on the verge of making it into the next round given that Italy and South Africa, the other game of that group, were also tied up at that point. If Portanova’s squad could manage a win in the second half and the other game remained a draw, Argentina would be on to the knockout round.
However, Sweden showed its superiority after halftime, and scored twice in the second half to finish the first round unbeaten and as group winner. A head goal by Rebecka Blomqvist 21 minutes into the second half and a penalty kick by Elin Rubensson at the end of the game sealed the Swedish win. The Albiceleste will now probably undergo a transition period as one of its stars, Estefanía Banini, had already announced that this World Cup would be her last participation in international football.
“[Banini] is an incredible player. I profoundly admire how she lives football and how professional she is. Her quality leaves a lot, I don’t think we have one like her at the moment, and hopefully someone comes along shortly,” Portanova said.
Forward Mariana Larroquette also valued the effort put forth by the team during the tournament. “We finished with an empty tank, gave it everything we had. On the pitch we showed that we never give up, no matter who our rival is,” she said, referencing the fact that Sweden is one of the best national teams in women’s football, currently ranked third in the FIFA rankings.
“We played a good match, knowing what Sweden represents. We still have a long way to go, but we never stopped running and trying to show the type of team we are.”
Portanova highlighted how “proud” he was of the players effort, saying that even though they were sad because they intended to win and make it to the next round, the team can rest assured they did their best. “After three games, our overall feeling is that it was a positive experience. We made mistakes and also got some things right, always trying to play our way and according to our possibilities. In the three games, we managed to do a lot of the things we had been working on.”
— with information from Télam