LONDON: The United States have appeared in all five women’s finals since the game opened up at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996; they can extend their domination by winning for a fourth time tomorrow/Thursday at Wembley writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
However, standing in their way are Japan – and the Japanese won the Women’s World Cup in Germany last year. Not only that but they beat the US in the final by the most fragile margin, in a penalty shootout. So Wembley’s ‘return’ will be a grudge match. Also, it will be played in front of their biggest attendance ever to watch a women’s match at the Olympics.
The first women’s final at the Games, in Athens, Georgia, in 1996 attracted a 76,000 crowd but already more than 83,000 tickets have been sold for the 2012 clash after a women’s tournament with a remarkable 24,000 average per match.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH: Japan v USA (Wembley)
- The nations that contested last year’s World Cup final go head-to-head at Wembley. Japan triumphed 3-1 on penalties on that occassion, with Suki KUMAGAI scoring the winning spot-kick after the match finished 2-2 in extra time.
- The United States have contested all five finals at the Olympics since women’s football was introduced in 1996 and are the reigning champions, having beaten Brazil at Beijing 2008.
- Yuki OGIMI (JPN) is on course for a notable treble in successive years by aiming to add a gold medal to her collection, after helping her country lift the World Cup and her German club Turbine Potsdam win the European Champions League.
- The United States striker Abby WAMBACH has scored five goals in the campaign, one behind Christine SINCLAIR (CAN), who is the tournament’s top scorer. Both players have scored 143 international goals in their career.
- Wembley is set to host a record attendance for an Olympic women’s football match, beating the previous best of 76,481 set at Atlanta 1996.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH: France v Canada (in Cardiff)
- Little to separate the two sides, according to the FIFA rankings. France lie in sixth place and Canada seventh.
- Canada are playing their fourth match at the City of Coventry Stadium, having beaten South Africa and Great Britain there following an opening day defeat by Japan.
- France, making their debut in the Olympic women’s football tournament this summer, claimed their first international title in March by beating Canada 2-0 in the Cyprus Cup.
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