Japan 2 Canada 1; Sweden 4 South Africa 1

Wednesday 25th July 2012
Japan Ladies 2 Canada Ladies 1; Sweden Ladies 4 South Africa Ladies 1
Preliminary Round Group F
At: City of Coventry Stadium
Admission: £20; Tournament Programme: £5 (100 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny

The football tournament started two days before the opening ceremony. I booked this ticket in April last year, not knowing which countries I’d be watching. Initially, Japan, Canada, Sweden and South Africa didn’t excite until a bit of research turned up the facts that Japan are the current FIFA Women’s World Cup holders and Sweden finished the same 2011 tournament in third place.

Having not pre-booked any parking, I followed the signs from the M6 to the city centre and a multi-story University car park; nearby a fleet of buses provided an pleasantly efficient ‘park-and-ride’ to the stadium and back after the two games. At the ground, my seat in the West Stand wasn’t too far for the one I sat in on my only previous visit to the ground in January 2010.

Both games provided decent entertainment with the highlights being the enthusiastic support given by their fans to the Japanese teams and Portia Modise’s amazing goal for South Africa.

Japan Ladies 2 Canada Ladies 1
Kick-off: 5-00 pm
Attendance: 14119
Duration: first-half: 45:07; second-half: 48:10

An hour after England and New Zealand ladies got the tournament underway at the Millennium Stadium, Japan (in all navy blue with a vertical pink stripe) kicked this one off attacking the North Stand in the first half. Few chances were created until Nahomi Kawasumi gave Japan the lead in the 33rd minute. Japan’s patience was further rewarded with a second goal just before the interval through Aya Miyama’s header. Melissa Tancredi pulled a goal back for Canada (wearing all white) in the 55th minute, much to the delight of a group of their fans sat in the East Stand.
1-0 Nahomi Kawasumi (33)
2-0 Aya Miyama (44)
2-1 Melissa Tancredi (55)

Sweden Ladies 4 South Africa Ladies 1
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance 18290 (total for the two games)
Duration: first-half: 47:01; second-half: 47:08

The second part of this Group F double header pitted Sweden, 2011 World Cup bronze medallists, against South Africa who had never previously appeared in this tournament. Sweden (in traditional yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks) got the game underway attacking the South Stand in the first half. They hit the woodwork three times before taking a 7th minute lead through Nilla Fischer. After hitting the post again, the Swedes doubled their lead with a shot from Lisa Dahlkvist and Lotta Schelin soon added a third goal. A big Swedish victory looked inevitable midway through the first half but the next goal didn’t come until the hour mark with Portia Modise amazing long-range shot for South Africa (wearing green and white stripes, white shorts and green and yellow hooped socks). Schelin’s second goal restored her side’s three-goal cushion which remained until full-time.

1-0 Nilla Fischer (7)
2-0 Lisa Dahlkvist (20)
3-0 Lotta Schelin (21)
3-1 Portia Modise (60)
4-1 Lotta Schelin (63)