Once again there will be no Spanish-speaking nations in the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, after neither Mexico nor Colombia managed to progress beyond the group stages of Germany 2011. Yet, despite the disappointment of having to pack their suitcases so soon, both sides have good reason to be optimistic for the future.
“This is by no means a failure,” said Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar, reflecting on his side’s exit from the competition. “We didn’t come to Germany expecting to be crowned world champions, and we weren’t favourites to win our group either.”
Be that as it may, the manner in which Mexico conceded two late goals to draw 2-2 with New Zealand in their final match will no doubt leave a bitter taste in the mouth. “We’re disappointed with the way it ended, because it would have been a successful competition for us if we’d taken three points from that match,” added Cuellar. “We’d like to have scored more goals, but my players are young and inexperienced. This experience will help us for the future.”
Fortunately Cuellar’s team only have to wait a few months for the opportunity to bounce back, with the Pan American Games on home soil in Guadalajara set to begin in October.
If the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 is anything to go by, the standard of women’s football has improved considerably in recent times. For Mexico in particular, Germany 2011 represents a significant improvement on their only previous appearance at USA 1999.
Twelve years ago, El Tri lost all three of their group matches, including a heavy 6-0 defeat by Germany, a 7-1 thumping at the hands of Brazil and a 2-0 reverse against Italy. This time around, Cuellar’s team leave with two points on the board, as well as the satisfaction of a well-earned 1-1 draw with title hopefuls England.
Mexico’s undoing in Germany was a fragile defensive line that fell to pieces against Japan and conceded two goals at the end versus the Kiwis. As Cuellar explained, this is one aspect that has left his players feeling downbeat. “We never settled against Japan and we never found the level needed to get a good result,” he said. “Against New Zealand, there were mixed feelings. We played good football and made a good start, but the final stages were tough and the way we conceded the equaliser was disappointing.”
“I’m happy and proud because we fought really hard and were able to display Colombian football on the world stage,” said Las Cafeteras defender Andrea Peralta. Making their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, Colombia’s only point in Group C came courtesy of a goalless draw with Korea DPR. This proved to be the high point of their campaign, as their other matches ended in defeats to heavyweights Sweden and USA. A lack of firepower up front was ultimately Colombia’s downfall, as they failed to score a single goal.
However, Colombia had the second-youngest squad at the tournament behind Korea DPR, and the future certainly looks bright for the South American starlets. “I think it’s been a great tournament and a fantastic experience,” said midfielder Orianica Velasquez, before looking ahead to Canada 2015. “Hopefully we can qualify for the next World Cup, where I’m sure we’ll do much better.”
“We played very well in the last game,” concluded coach Ricardo Rozo. “I think it’s been a great experience and one that will help the young players mature. It will really help them for the Pan American Games and the Olympics in London.” And so Colombia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup adventure comes to an end. One thing is for sure: we have not seen the last of Rozo’s talented young Cafeteras.