Sunday, June 26, 2011
Some of you might recall I caught a low grade infection last summer diagnosed as World Cup Fever. For many people, this disease can only be caught in even numbered years not divisible by four, but I also like to follow the Women's World Cup, the latest installment starting today in host country Germany.
It's almost not fair that the Germans are hosting, because they are the dominant team in women's football this century. They won the last two World Cups in 2003 and 2007. In 2007, they won the tournament by not giving up a single goal. (They didn't win all their games, as England played them to a 0-0 draw.)
Unlike the English and French, German national teams tend to look very European, but not this year. One of the German goal scorers was Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi, born in Bonn of a French mother and Cameroonian father. The other noticeably non-Aryan name on the squad is Fatmire Bajramaj, whose parents were refugees from Kosovo. Fatmire, known by the nickname Lira, is the new star being given the front and center position in the German press, though she didn't start the game today. All three of today's German subs, Bajramaj, Inka Grings and Alexandra Popp, are superstars that would have a starting job on any other squad playing in the tournament.
That's how good Germany is.
The Germans beat the Canadians in the opening match in Berlin, but the big news of the day is that the Canucks were not shut out. Trailing 2-0 in the second half and badly outplayed, Canada got a free kick from 25 yards and gave the honors to Christine Sinclair, Canada's greatest scoring star by a considerable margin. She hit a nasty twisting shot any man would be happy to mimic, just over the tall German wall and just under the crossbar. The goalie Nadine Angerer had no chance at all.
She is also the big news because she will not be playing in Canada's second match, a must win game against the French. Sinclair had her nose broken in the first half and only stayed in the game because she begged the coach Carolina Morace. The team doctor says it's too risky for her to play against the French on Thursday.
Some football fans don't like the women's game for the same reasons some basketball fans don't watch the WNBA. They aren't as big, fast or strong as the men, but that doesn't stop them from being tough, talented and fierce competitors. A slight advantage to the women's game is that flopping is not the pandemic it is in the male version.
The games from Germany will be airing in the morning here on the West Coast, so I won't be able to see a bunch of games on Mondays through Thursdays, but I'm going to do all I can to catch the games when I'm not working. I'm guessing that the experts predicting a German coronation know what they are talking about, but I expect a lot of drama along the way.