Regardless of whether they win, lose or draw, Argentina's adventure on Russia soil will draw to a close this Thursday as they take on Congo DR in St Petersburg's Petrovsky Stadium .
Nevertheless, the Albiceleste are determined to cap their historic first appearance at a FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship by taking all three points against their African opponents and avoid being handed Group D's wooden spoon.
Full of confidence and enthusiasm when they touched down in Moscow prior to the tournament, the Argentines came down to earth with a bang after a 5-0 opening-game humbling at the hands of France.
Nor was there any respite in their second group match against the mighty USA, one of the superpowers of the women's game and many people's favourites to take the title. Mercedes Pereyra took advantage of a lapse in concentration in the US backline to score the Albicelestes' first goal at Russia 2006, but they would eventually go down 4-1 to their more illustrious opponents .
"We were racked by opening-game nerves against France and weren't able to play our natural game," Argentina coach Jose Carlos Borrello told FIFA.com. "We played a bit better in the second match, but we're still some way short of hitting top form. We're determined to play our best football against Congo and fully intend to show people that we deserve to be here. But I'm also well aware that the girls' youth and nervousness could have a big part to play."
Borrello has been in charge of women's football at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) since 1998 and is responsible for managing and coaching every age level of the national team set-up. His brief also involves travelling the length and breadth of the vast South American country searching for fresh talent to further boost the ongoing development of the women's game in the football-crazy nation.
The fans therefore have every reason to be proud of their team's qualification for Russia 2006 and the senior side's involvement at the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 .
Only pride at stake
With neither side in contention for a place in the quarter-finals, the bottom two teams in Group D are set to battle it out for the honour of leaving the tournament with a win under their belts.
"We want to beat Congo to pick up our first-ever World Championship win," declared coach Borrello after putting his girls through their paces in their first training session in St Petersburg. "We were able to relieve some of the pressure we were under with our performance against the United States; we took the game much more seriously." This is the type of approach the experienced strategist is looking for in his side's final game on Russian soil.
The coach is not planning on making any changes to his starting eleven, and is set to keep faith in the same players whose performances in Chile booked Argentina's place at Russia 2006: "The girls are full of enthusiasm and are fully committed to hitting the high standards that they showed in the South American qualifying tournament." Nevertheless, Borello does harbour concerns about how his side will cope with the pace and power of the physically strong Congolese players.
While the Argentina camp are clearly not pleased with the way things have gone after their opening two games, the experience garnered against the world's top sides should serve this generation of talented youngsters well. "Clearly these were not the kind of results we were hoping for. We came here with high expectations and are going home feeling disappointed," was Borello's frank verdict on his side's campaign thus far.
Nevertheless, a positive result against Congo DR would do much to offset the general feelings of disappointment within the squad, and would no doubt make the long journey home that much more comfortable.