FIFA Women’s World Cup: Argentina seeks first World Cup win in opener against Italy

Argentina holds the men’s World Cup trophy following the Lionel Messi-led run last December in Qatar, but the women’s team has never won a match in the global tournament.

The women are hoping that changes Monday night when Argentina meets Italy in a Group G match in Auckland.

La Albiceleste are making their fourth World Cup appearance, and they had a tough go four years ago in France with a draw and two losses before elimination. Argentina’s group included England, Japan and Scotland in 2019. Its group this time contains Italy, Sweden and South Africa.

READ MORE: FIFA WWC 2023: Marta enters her sixth Women’s World Cup seeking elusive trophy

Argentina came into the tournament winners of five of six matches this year.

“We will always try to achieve, and to see our dreams come true,” Argentina coach German Portanova said. “Once you win one match, why not achieve more? We have for years tried to improve our operation and our game. It’s because women’s football is nurtured by results. So a good result here would be another step forward for women’s football.”

Aldana Cometti, a defender who plays for Madrid, said she’s grateful the Argentine federation has been devoting more resources to developing the women’s game.

“There have been many, many changes. For example, the medical team told us that when we went to France in the past World Cup, we had only two people in our medical team. Today there are six. This is an enormous achievement for all of us, to have all this support,” Cometti said through a translator.

Italy has had more success at the World Cup, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2019 after a 2-0 round of 16 victory over China. The Italians were stopped by the Netherlands, which went on to lose to the U.S. team in the final. That result gave the U.S. women’s team back-to-back titles.

Portanova had a message for fans back in Argentina, where the game is set to start at 3 a.m. local time on Monday.

“Please trust us, put your confidence in us. We are going to do our best, our very best on the field. We’ll sacrifice and make an effort for every ball, every kick,” he said. “Our heart will be in it.”

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