The Japanese people have something to cheer about for the first time after the March 2011 disaster at Sendai and Fukushima. The Japanese women's team recently became world champions in football after defeating the United States in a penalty shootout. Thus, Japan became the first country in Asia to win a FIFA Women's world cup.
The 2011 Women's world cup was held in 9 venues across Germany. Sixteen nations took part in the event, which culminated at the final at Frankfurt on July 17.
Japan played in the Group B at the preliminary round and won 2 of their three games, going down 2-0 against the English. In the knockout stages, they pulled some fine wins as they progressed. In the quarterfinal, the Asian ladies defeated the host country, Germany, ranked second in the world, courtesy of a goal by Karina Maruyama at extra time. In the semi final, they easily beat Sweden by 3-1.
Nearly 49,000 spectators witnessed the Japanese taking on the formidable U.S.A. team at Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt. It was an encounter where fortunes fluctuated between the teams. Morgan's goal in the 69th minute brought the U.S. up by 1-0. But, just 9 minutes prior to the finish, Aya Miyama sent the ball past the best goalkeeper of the tournament, Hope Solo. The game went to extra time.
It was the same story once again. Abby Wambach brought the U.S. back to the top but just three minutes before the close of the extra time, Japanese captain Homare Sawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament. This gave her the golden boot for the highest number of goals scored and her team went on to win in the penalty shootout.
The penalty shootout was where the luck went drastically away from the U.S. team. Hope Solo was helpless and Ayumi Kaihori was brilliant in their respective goals. Americans missed their first three penalties and were finally defeated 3-1 in the shootout.