The United States are determined to avenge their women's World
Cup final defeat to Japan as they prepare to defend their Olympic
football crown against the Asian giants on Thursday.
For just over a year, the USA women have nursed a sense of
grievance over their defeat to the Japanese in last year's World
Cup in Germany where they were beaten on penalties after a 2-2
The Americans arrived in London thirsting for the opportunity to
make amends for that bitter defeat, a ferocious desire that has
been evident in a rollercoaster ride into Thursday's final.
In their opening match against France, they were 2-0 down inside
the first 20 minutes before regrouping to run out 4-2 winners.
Then on Monday they trailed against Canada three times before
finally clinching a sensational 4-3 victory in the final minute
of extra-time courtesy of an Alex Morgan header.
"For some reason we like to make things dramatic," the USA's
veteran striker Abby Wambach reflected after the victory over
"This team doesn't give up. This is what we're about. This is
what we've been working for since the day we lost to Japan in the
World Cup final."
Wambach, scorer of the extra-time winner when the USA won Olympic
gold in Athens eight years ago, kept her cool superbly on Monday
when she stroked in a pressure-laden penalty to equalise 10
minutes from time.
The 32-year-old has been a key rallying point for her younger
team-mates during this Olympic campaign, forging a deadly
partnership with the 23-year-old Morgan which has yielded eight
of the USA's 14 goals from five matches.
Wambach spoke admiringly of her young strike partner after
Monday's win, hailing Morgan's winner as "a great goal by a young
kid who has big expectations for herself."
Morgan meanwhile is looking forward to the prospect of facing
Japan as the USA attempt to win the gold medal for the fourth
time in five attempts.
"Now we're up against Japan and we really want that rematch,"
Japan meanwhile have reached the final after a tournament in
which they have got progressively stronger following a troubled
The Japanese are attempting to become only the second team in
history to hold the women's World Cup and Olympic titles at the
same time and Yuki Ogimi says the mood is better than ever.
"We have a different feeling," Ogimi said when asked to compare
the current squad with last year's World Cup winners. "We are
working more as a team. As for myself, I am happier than last