The first round of women’s football matches at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were certainly action-packed.
You could even argue Team GB’s first win – beginning their quest for a medal with a very comfortable 2-0 victory against Chile – was one which carried little excitement in comparison to some of the others.
Although Great Britain’s result was expected, it was not taken for granted by the players, and the team were rewarded for their disciplined and dominant display thanks to a brace from Manchester City’s Ellen White.
The forward has a knack for scoring in major competitions and this will be a start which has hopefully built some confidence ahead of more challenging ties.
Elsewhere in the group, Japan and Canada opened their tournament with a 1-1 draw, which means GB top the standings.
However, both teams carry significant experience at these tournaments, having medalled recently and, as such, will be difficult opponents to overcome.
Japan – who Team GB face today – took silver in 2012 in London, which was Great Britain’s last outing at an Olympic games, meanwhile Canada won bronze in both 2012 and 2016 and are looking to go at least one better this time around.
In the other groups, the biggest upset came with USA losing 3-0 to their nemesis, Sweden. The US are looking to return to gold medal success after they fell out at the quarter-final stage in 2016 in a shock defeat to the same opponents.
Ever since then there has been something about encounters with the Swedes which has unsettled the Americans and there were certainly a few nervy moments from the US in the game on Wednesday.
However, if there is a game to lose, then the opening group one certainly isn’t the most fatal and the response anticipated today against New Zealand could reset the tone. A win would also likely end New Zealand’s hopes of progressing out of the group, after they fell 2-1 to rivals Australia in their opener.
In the most goal-packed game, Netherlands put ten goals past Zambia. However, they somehow also managed to concede three in what was a strange encounter.
Zambia are ranked 104th in the world and are the lowest ranked team in the Olympics this time around.
The debut for the Copper Queens will be a memorable one, especially for captain Barbra Banda, who found herself in the history books. She not only scored their first ever goal at the competition, but she also became the first ever female African player to score a hat-trick at the Games.
Viv Miedema did go one better on the night as she opened her tally with four goals.
In the only other game, Brazil thumped China 5-0 to begin their tournament impressively. Although ranked seventh in the world, the Brazilians’ performances on the big stage have been inconsistent, however, Marta continued to show she is still one of the greats of the game.
She scored twice – and has now netted at five straight Olympic Games.
There are not too many affirmations of success which are greater than Brazilian hero Pele publicly praising you for your ongoing inspiration.
I’m excited to play under new SWNT boss Pedro Martinez Losa
This week the Scottish FA announced who would replace Shelley Kerr as Scotland head coach after she stepped down in December of last year.
Former Bordeaux and Arsenal manager Pedro Martinez Losa will take charge. He left the French side earlier this summer after joining them in 2019.
The Spaniard comes with experience from his homeland, England, the United States and most recently the top flight in France, where he led Bordeaux to Champions League qualification for the first time in the club’s history.
The news will allow Scotland to focus on the task at hand, which will be to try to return to the biggest stage and qualify for another major tournament, with the next qualification about to begin.
In September, the team will come together for the first time under the new coaching staff and will start on a new journey to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which will be played in Australia and New Zealand.
Martinez Losa will not be entirely unfamiliar with the squad, after he worked with Kim Little, Caroline Weir and Emma Mitchell during his time spent at Arsenal. Given his coaching experience, it will be exciting to play under a new manager who can bring his style and philosophy in an effort to get the best out of a talented group.
The last campaign, where we didn’t qualify for next summer’s Euros, certainly felt like it was an underachievement and this will be the first opportunity to bounce back.
Women’s matches being at Hampden is great step forward
The SFA also announced the exciting news this week all of the Women’s international qualifying fixtures for the upcoming campaign will be played at Hampden, the home of Scottish football.
The decision to allow the women’s team to play at the national stadium is part of the newly-launched campaign – ‘Accelerate Our Game’ – and is a sign of the ambition the SFA has to deservingly showcase the women’s game in a greater light.
— P&J Sport (@PandJSport) July 22, 2021
Meanwhile, there was another significant signing in Scottish domestic football this week as Celtic Women signed 19-year-old midfielder Shen Mengyu from Shanghai Shengli in the Chinese Super League. She becomes the first Chinese player to play in Scotland.