The World Cup is in full swing. Already there’s an upset that was completely unexpected. Japan is known to have a reputation as a worldwide powerhouse. However, Argentina stepped up to the plate with its first “win” for them. Actually, it ended up being a tie, but this is something that has never happened for Argentina. In both 2003 and 2007, they lost their six matches. For both 2011 and 2015, they missed the tournament completely. While a tie to a lot of people may just be a stalemate, this could mean a lot of things for not just the women’s Argentina team, but the country as well. It’s put a sense of hope into the country that has been long overdue.
Midfielder Estefania Banini stated, “I think we can really inspire people a lot.” Also, she believes they can start a whole new process when it comes to the sport. At the end of the day, it’s more than making points. They want to touch the people back home. This is the first game of many to show that Argentina can actually flourish. Argentina coach Carlos Borrello states, “We are starting on our way and just starting to face up to these powerful forces in football.” Not only is this a catalyst to get more equality for men and women in soccer, but in Argentinian society as a whole. Borrello says, “We have started getting support now from the Argentinean football federation for the team. It’s true that results help a lot, and this will definitely help and reinforce all the work.”
Argentina is definitely on its way to changing. The Argentinian players who have took the team to its first World Cup in 12 years helped organize a strike in 2017 after their stipends went unpaid, and started a movement to give them more equality in professional soccer. Also, this tied into the feminist movement with the marches against violence and inequality. As you can see, this is deeper than just soccer, it’s about a way of life. Of course, this has also been a way to bust down the walls of this sport and help to make it fair for both sides.
Goalkeeper Gabriela Garton states, “Soccer was this last place that was so hard to break the barriers and come in. This year the dam opened and I hope it remains this way.” The Argentinian players have started to seem some visibility when it comes to advertising sportswear, household appliances, etc. This came after a time where they were practically invisible. Of course, the tie is great, but they’re definitely looking to make their first true win. Striker Mariana Larroquette states, “Our main goal is to win one match, and we will focus on debutant Scotland.”
The men are currently in Brazil for the Copa America. Before both teams were off to their respective tournaments, both number 10s (Banini and Lionel Messi) shared a meal together alongside the men’s and women’s players. Banini hopes that this is just the start. She hopes that the team can gain some true national recognition. Argentina has built up quite the defensive team. In fact, that’s what truly saved them in the game against Japan. In the game, “Japan took until the 50th minute to test Correa, who stopped forward Kumi Yokoyama’s low shot from about 35 meters out. Minutes later, Japan midfielder Yui Hasegawa botched a good chance, swiping left of the goal from close range after a cross from the right.”
Argentina played a very organized and defensive game. Japan is more so known for having an offensive advantage, but they couldn’t break through the tight knit defense mechanics.
According to Japan coach Asako Takakura, “We never look to play defensive football (but) in the first half we were very cautious.” It was not enough to make a dent in their playing style. In fact, this is one of the areas that Takakura wants the team to work on. Due to Banini’s caliber, she was able to trick the Japan’s defenses. She played them in a way to contain everything. Instead of advancing forward, it was a real psychological tactic to play keep away long enough, so that they couldn’t score. This looks like just the beginning of what the women’s team can do. It’ll certainly spark the fire for future generations to come. We’ll see what happens to the state of the women’s Argentina team after the World Cup games.