USA goalkeeper Hope Solo and striker Abby Wambach had to breathe deeply and put on a brave smile as they collected richly deserved awards for their outstanding individual performances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.
The US custodian collected the adidas Golden Glove as the number one goalkeeper of the competition and also made off with the adidas Bronze Ball as the third best player at Germany 2011.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Solo told FIFA.com after her side had gone down on penalties to Japan in Sunday’s Final in Frankfurt. “My goal has always been to be the top goalkeeper in the world and it’s also been my goal to be world champion too, so I’m not entirely happy. It’s been a bit tough to come out here and collect these prizes. I’d have preferred to be up there picking up another trophy with my team-mates rather than the individual awards.”
Wambach, the scorer of four goals at the tournament, voiced similar sentiments after she had taken receipt of the adidas Silver Ball and the adidas Bronze Boot: “I’m honoured to have won these two awards but I’m heartbroken not to have achieved just a little bit more.”
Nevertheless, both players were effusive in their praise of the new world champions. “It was a tight, tough game,” said the keeper, who chatted at length to Aya Miyama at the end of the game before embracing the Japan star warmly. “The Japanese showed a lot of passion and a lot of fight. I don’t say that about many teams but I have an awful lot of respect for them. They played for a lot more than sport. They played for so many good and wonderful reasons.”
“I feel sad,” added Wambach. “We should be applauding Japan though. What a fantastic game Sawa had. She was magnificent, and she worked so hard she deserved it. This is very tough for us to take because we came so close, though I think that Japan have suffered so much and needed to win more than we did. I’d like to think that this win can bring a little hope and joy to the Japanese people.”
As the dust settled on a closely fought and exciting game that went all the way to penalties, the Americans struggled to find fault with their performance. “We showed that USA are a team that likes to attack, that we’re not a defensive side,” continued Hope, accentuating the positive. “We created a lot of chances but luck wasn’t on our side in the end. It was with Japan.”
Recognition as the third best player in the competition should at least go some way to ending the debate surrounding the standard of keeping in the women’s game. “That’s a good point, though I don’t see goalkeeping as the weak point of women’s football,” commented Solo. “You’ve only got to look at the Japanese keeper tonight. She had a magnificent game and a terrific tournament. I think it was the goalkeepers who made the difference in the matches and I’m proud to have received this award. As for tonight’s shootout, what can I say? It’s difficult to win two games from the penalty spot. There’s nothing I can say.”