Paris: Argentina collected a first-ever Women’s World Cup point with a determined defensive display against Japan on Monday.
On a day of defence against attack, Argentina held Japan 0-0 in Paris in Group D while Canada edged Cameroon 1-0 in Montpellier.
Facing a team that were finalists in the last two World Cups, Argentina barely managed a shot on goal as they forced the first goalless draw of the competition and only the seventh in the competition’s history.
“Basically we couldn’t play any other way against this team,” said Carlos Borrello, the Argentina manager.
Cameroon, who won two matches on their only previous appearance in 2011, were undone by one set piece in the dying seconds of the first half.
“We had to be realistic and focus on defending and hitting on the counter-attack,” said Alain Djeumfa, the coach of Cameroon, who won two of their three group games at the last World Cup.
When the whistle blew at Paris St-Germain’s Parc des Princes stadium Argentina’s substitutes jumped off the bench to join the players on the pitch at finally getting a World Cup point at the seventh attempt.
“This point is really important for us. I think we’re able to reflect upon what Argentina is and what it means as a team,” said Estefania Banini, Argentina’s captain who was voted player of the match.
“We weren’t good enough to break down Argentina’s defence today,” said Asako Takakura, the Japan coach.
Since the group stage only eliminates eight of the 24 teams, the draw leaves Japan and Argentina needing one victory in their next two games. Both will need to find a way to score.
“We’ve still got two teams to face and they’re going to be really competitive,” said Banini. “We have to play really intelligent, compact football and become a really compact team and I think that we can progress.
“We believe that we can continue fighting and we can get more points and not go home with just one.”
In Montpellier, Canada struggled with their shooting in the Group E opener.
Defender Kadeisha Buchanan scored the only goal arriving late to meet a corner at the far post and bounce a header past Annette Ngo Ndom in the Cameroon goal.
“I thought Cameroon did a great job of staying compact and making it difficult for us,” Buchanan said.