Representatives from Wild about Honey and Eco Trails with CEO Chris Barton.JPG

Land of the Rising Sun

This Wednesday afternoon’s women’s football Algarve Cup final (played after the Algarve Resident went to press) turned out to be both a unique and truly top international occasion in several respects.

First of all the match did not feature the sport’s hitherto top nation and record tournament winners, the USA, something unheard of during the preceding 19 years of this prestigious competition’s existence.

The Americans suffered their first ever defeat (1-0) during regular play to Japan, surprise winners against the very same opponents following a penalty shoot-out following last year’s World Cup final, in Monday’s concluding Group B game.

Instead the rapidly improving Far Eastern team were hoping to continue their winning streak against their equally unbeaten and as impressive German counterparts at the Stadium of the Algarve.

The 2011 World Cup hosts had seen off both Iceland and China 1-0 before trouncing former superpower Sweden 4-0 in Parchal on Monday to reach what could easily have been a London Olympics gold medal dress rehearsal.

In the non-title Group C, Portugal were unlucky to lose their opening encounter 1-0 to table toppers Wales before going on to beat Hungary and Ireland 4-0 and 2-1 respectively.

Manager Antonio Violante’s charges were rewarded with a play-off tie against China, surely one of the biggest occasions for the blossoming domestic game, to round off a memorable 2012 Algarve Cup.

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