Ddr­raaw ...... bbu­utt lli­ik­kee aa ffoorr

A 0--0 wi­inn Ar­rggeen­nt­ti­in­naa

Mercury (Hobart) - - SOCCER -

AT the fi­nal whis­tle of their Women’s World Cup opener, Ar­gentina’s play­ers dropped to their knees as if they had won the en­tire tour­na­ment. They didn’t even win the game.

But for the first time ever, they didn’t lose, ei­ther. Ar­gentina played a 0-0 draw against Ja­pan to earn its first ever point at the World Cup. Ar­gentina lost its pre­vi­ous six World Cup matches in 2003 and 2007, and missed the 2011 and 2015 tour­na­ments.

For a na­tion that loves the game and wor­ships its glob­ally suc­cess­ful men’s team, the draw against Ja­pan can be as good as a win. Ar­gentina had been outscored 33-2 in six pre­vi­ous World Cup games.

“I think we can re­ally in­spire peo­ple a lot,” mid­fielder Este­fa­nia Banini said. “We can also start a new process.”

Ar­gentina wants far more than points at the World Cup. The big­ger goal is to touch more hearts and minds back home.

“For women’s foot­ball in Ar­gentina it is great that we are start­ing to flourish,” Ar­gentina coach Car­los Bor­rello said. “We are start­ing on our way and just start­ing to face up to these pow­er­ful forces in foot­ball.”

Bor­rello said he hopes for a push for equal­ity between the men’s and women’s games — and also across Ar­gen­tinian so­ci­ety as a whole.

“We have started get­ting sup­port now from the Ar­gen­tinian foot­ball fed­er­a­tion for the team. It’s true that re­sults help a lot, and this will def­i­nitely help and re­in­force all the work,” he said. “It will help us to con­tinue on the great path. We have to also strengthen the grass­roots of our game.”

Things are chang­ing in Ar­gentina. Pre­vi­ous con­cerns about a lack of uni­forms and in­ad­e­quate train­ing con­di­tions have been ad­dressed, two years af­ter play­ers went on strike be­cause stipends went un­paid.

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