Four years after Andres Iniesta netted the most famous goal in Spanish football history to lift the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time, Las Rojitas are within sight creating their own breakthrough achievement at Costa Rica 2014. Spain’s best-ever effort in any FIFA women’s football tournament is third-place at the 2010 edition of this event in Trinidad and Tobago four years ago. Now only semi-final opponents Italy stands between the class of 2014 and their own slice of history.
Spain’s combination play has been a feature of their impressive charge to the semi-finals at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Rarely has that better been illustrated than the on-field synchronicity between diminutive attacking duo Nahikari Garcia and Laura Dominguez in the impressive quarter-final win over Nigeria which left Las Rojitas on the cusp of breaking new ground.
Garcia has been a highly valued part of the national team set-up for several years, while Dominguez is a newer member of the starting side having made every post a winner with several outstanding displays in Costa Rica. Dominguez has often played provider feeding seemingly telepathic deliveries to her free-running team-mate in the forward line.
Garcia is the second equal top scorer at Costa Rica 2014, having now netted four times, the most recent of which saw Dominguez supply her team-mate with a perfect through pass to score, effectively ending the quarter-final as a contest.
“We have always had a good relationship off the pitch, and it has translated on to the pitch as well,” Garcia told FIFA.com as the pair chatted overlooking the scenic Papagayo Bay in the team hotel ahead of Monday’s semi-final in the northern town of Liberia. “The connection has perhaps grown and become a lot stronger recently, but actually the whole team generally communicate very well on the field given how much hard work we have done and the amount of time spent together.
“Since I have been playing in the team Nai has always been a great help,” chips in Laura as the pair discuss their relationship with mild coyness. “There is a good connection, which continues to grow incrementally.”
The Basque-born and raised Garcia is a regular at Real Sociedad’s La Liga matches, and comes from a sporting family; a fact perhaps borne out by her on-field intuition. She also names Spanish senior national team captain Vero Boquete as an inspiration.
Dominguez, for her part, is a Madrid native and, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a Real supporter, adding with a smile “unfortunately my dad is an Atletico Madrid fan”.
Growing the feminine game
Garcia is somewhat of a leading figure in the dressing room, often displaying a maturity beyond her years in keeping the squad as a unified force. So too, she enjoys taking women’s football to a wider audience saying: “What I like best is having the opportunity to show people that they can be entertained by women’s football, and that it is out there and can be enjoyed just as much as men’s football.
“(Playing in this tournament) is a big responsibility not only to wear the shirt, but also to represent women’s football,” continued the eloquent Garcia. “We have the chance to show that Spain has a team that is wanting to play good football.”
Asked to cast her mind back to Iniesta’s goal at South Africa 2010, Dominguez says: “At the time I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to do something like that. But I think everyone thought they wished they could be that person scoring in the final.” The Spaniards refuse to look beyond their upcoming meeting with the Azzurrine, but just maybe their own iconic moment lies in wait.