As the final whistle blew on her side's landslide victory over Mexico , Germany captain Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi wore a smile from cheek to cheek.
The inspirational skipper had more reason than most to be satisfied after a game which saw Germany pick up their first three points of the campaign. Her stunning display earned her the coveted Player of the Match award, while Okoyino Da Mbabi also notched her country's opening goal, a strike which held a great deal of personal significance for the gifted youngster.
"I dedicated that goal to a good friend of mine who passed away two weeks ago," she told FIFA.com, explaining the photograph emblazoned on the t-shirt she displayed after scoring. "He had been asking me to dedicate him a goal for some time, and there's no doubt that this was the right time to do it. I'm so happy to have been able to do it."
The German women went into the match against Mexico looking to bounce back from their opening game reverse against Korea DPR . "It was an unexpected defeat - we were very confident we'd win that match," admitted the player who plays her club football for 07 Bad Neuenahr. "That's why it was such a relief to get the win over Mexico, and to beat them 9-1 makes it that much better."
Despite their best efforts, Mexico were unable to keep the defending champions at bay for more than 24 minutes of an action-packed encounter and, fittingly, it was Germany's No. 10 who broke the deadlock, shaking off her marker before heading home a Simone Laudehr cross. The goal opened the floodgates as the Germans ran riot, with Okoyino Da Mbabi's sparkling in the middle of the park with the range and quality of her passing.
"The first goal really calmed us down and made the rest of the game that much easier for us," she reflected. "From that point onwards it falls to the other team to take the initiative, and you are that much more comfortable."
'Bursting with talent'
Born to a Cameroonian father and French mother, Okoyino Da Mbabi is a firm advocate of the importance of placing the team above any individual considerations.
In typically modest fashion, the gifted midfielder played down her Player of the Match award against the Mexicans. "It's a real honour but I think that it was the fact that we played very well as a team that made the difference," she said. "We felt really at home out on the pitch and put in a very strong display. We scored nine goals with seven different scorers, which goes to show that this squad is bursting with talent."
Not wishing to get carried away at such an early stage of the tournament, the midfield schemer was determined to keep her team's performance in perspective.
"We can't go thinking that we're the best because we scored nine goals," she said. "We've not forgotten that we lost our first game, so we need to focus on beating Switzerland . Against Mexico there were still a few mistakes that we need to straighten out. Our coach will let us know what we need to do to put things right. We need to keep getting better and book our place in the quarter-finals."
Still just 18, the creative midfielder has already racked up a wealth of international experience and was part of the Germany squad that stormed to victory at Thailand 2004 . "I've got more experience now because I've played more games, but some of the other girls were there too. I know that as captain I've got a bit more responsibility, but there are loads of experienced players who've got a big part to play.
"The fact that wear the armband doesn't make me more special than anyone else. Each and every one of us is vitally important to the team. Each player has her own area of responsibility and must do her bit."
That recipe for success clearly bore fruit against the Tricolor, but Okoyino Da Mbabi is keen not to rest on her laurels: "We brought all our talent to bear, if can keep playing like that then we can go far."