With the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament 2012 in London just a matter of weeks away, an extra treat was on offer at the Volvo Winners Cup in Sweden between 16 and 20 June. The top three finishers at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ - Japan, USA and Sweden - locked horns in preparation for the summer games.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action from the three-nation tournament.
Hosts Sweden and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 runners-up USA got the round-robin competition underway at the Orjans Vall stadium in Halmstad. USA took control of the game early on and made it quite clear they had no intention of finishing in second place this time around.
The lively Abby Wambach gave the visitors the perfect start when she struck after just eight minutes. Her strike partner, Alex Morgan, doubled their lead in the 22nd minute and the duo were a constant source of danger in the opposition defence. Lotta Schelin did manage to pull a goal back for Sweden just before the break, but substitute Tobin Heath sealed victory over the Tre Konor with a second-half header.
“It was a good experience for us, playing the third-best team in the world and scoring three goals,” said USA coach Pia Sundhage. “I am very happy that Abby and Alex, our goalscorers, each got a goal and that Tobin Heath came off the bench to score. Part of the game was pretty good and we are taking another step closer to the Olympics.”
Just two days after beating Sweden, USA faced reigning world champions Japan. It was the third time Pia Sundhage’s side have faced the Nadeshiko this year. Following a defeat and a draw, this time USA were able to come out on top.
Morgan (3’, 61’) and Wambach (10’, 90’+2) were again on the scoresheet, with each firing a brace to give their team a 4-1 victory. Turbine Potsdam striker Yuki Nagasato had briefly pulled Japan back into the game in the 28th minute. With two wins in the bag, USA were guaranteed the Volvo Winners Cup title ahead of the final match between Sweden and Japan.
"We lost our way after giving away two goals early in the game,” said Japan’s Aya Miyama. “But we want to take this positively - that we’ve learned what we should work on for the remaining weeks ahead of the Olympics.”
The final match of the tournament took on added significance as a dress rehearsal for London 2012, where Sweden and Japan are set to meet in the group stage. The Nadeshiko were able to end the tournament on a high note with a 1-0 victory in Gothenburg, thanks to another goal from Nagasato.
Sweden have the chance to get their own back on 28 July, when they face the Asian outfit on matchday 2 in Group F, which also includes Canada and South Africa. USA go up against France, Colombia and Korea DPR in Group G.