Maybe this Olympic tournament is when women's football begins to get the respect it deserves. At least it has been much more entertaining, not to say dignified, than the men's, and it was topped today by two splendid semifinals which in terms of quality, technique, skills and drama were absolutely top level.
First, the outstanding French side played against the world champions of Japan. Both sides are relatively new additions to top level women's football, which in my view has previously been hampered by women too often trying to emulate men. Not these sides however. Japan plays a patient, organised but very technically skillful style, while France plays with power as well as skill. Japan won 2-1, but France put enormous pressure on the Japanese, and even missed a penalty that would have taken the match into extra time. France's goalkeeper, who made an appalling mistake in the first half to give Japan their first goal, will not be sleeping well tonight, but France will nevertheless have a good shot at bronze medals against Canada.
Canada is also a recent newcomer to top level women's football, and in this semifinal played their mighty neighbour, the USA. The north Americans are undoubtedly one of the most watchable sides in women's football, full of style, skills and charisma, as well as an admirable fighting spirit. Today they needed all these qualities against their northern neighbours. Three times the Canadians were leading, every time on a goal by their captain Christine Sinclair, but every time the USA managed to get back into the match, which thus ended 3-3. During the extra time, after half an hour of nerves and fight, everyone thought the match would go into penalty kicks when Alex Morgan scored the winner for the USA in the last second of the match.
Surely bitter for the Canadian ladies who nevertheless were splendid, and should be thanked by all football fans!
The final will be a repeat of last year's world cup final, where Japan surprisingly defeated the USA. One thing I will I am certain of though, is that it will be a splendid match between two splendid sides of ladies who could beat most men team's in the world!
Do not miss the final!