In 2019 in France, the United States offered themselves a ride against Thailand for their entry into the running, with an impressive 13-0. Four years later, against Vietnam which was also playing its first World Cup, the reigning American champions could pass only three small goals.
In four days of competition, no cador of the discipline has really flown over their meeting, with the exception of Germany, impressive against Morocco (6-0), and Japan, easy winner against the Zambians (5-0). Some were even surprised: the Canadian Olympic champions (0-0 against Nigeria), Ada Hergerberg's Norway against New Zealanders (1-0) or even France, hooked by Jamaica on Sunday (0-0). Four years earlier, the Reggae Girlz had conceded twelve goals in three group matches, leaving home without having had the slightest chance to shine.
“We small countries, I think we play with a lot of heart. This shows that women's football is improving day by day,” said Jamaican Deneisha Blackwood, player of the match. "The France team used to outperform its opponents in the first match, it's a habit that will change because football is getting closer," added Blues coach Hervé Renard. This trend, which still remains to be confirmed, seems to prove FIFA right and its choice to expand the competition to 32 teams, whereas it only had 16 in 2011 and 24 during the last two editions.
The reform, which involves more matches and therefore mechanically more income, may have made some observers cringe, unconvinced by the argument of the development of discipline and worried about the performance of the eight novices qualified for this event in Australia and New Zealand. "Many people who believe that women's football is still not a superb sport, that it is not entertaining or that it is a kind of pale copy of men's football, will see that it is a fantastic discipline", hammered the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino at the opening of the tournament. "The level has improved incredibly over the past ten years and it's the best who come here."
The actors of the game quickly followed in the footsteps of the leader, after the first surprises of the competition. “I think today there are no more small teams. We saw it in this World Championship: those that we thought were small teams showed things and evolved a lot. They worked a lot, ”assured the French Kadidiatou Diani after the draw of the Tricolors.
The Jamaican coach did not appear surprised either. “It goes from diet to training to physical training. The smaller countries, we may not have all the means or the infrastructure, but there is a vision”, explained Lorne Donaldson, after the first historic point won in the World Cup. “The gap is closing”. Especially since China only gave in at the very end of the match against Denmark (0-1) and the Haitian novices superbly resisted the English European champions (0-1).
After Morocco's epic at the Men's World Cup in Qatar, is a similar adventure possible in the Pacific? The German coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, precisely opposed to Morocco, does not completely exclude it. "All the countries that come here are not only proud to be at the World Cup, they also have the quality to cause us problems," she said on Sunday, the day before the match in Melbourne. For once, she was wrong. But overall...