Months after the largest earthquake in recorded history rocked the country of Japan and its devastating toll continues to loom, the Japanese awoke this morning to some glimmer of hope and joy: a 3-1 victory in FIFA's Women's World Cup Finals over the dominant American team.
It was - if anything - no easy road to the finals. Japan had to face the extremely athletic Germany team followed by the Swedish who handed the US team its only loss during the race to the finals. Moreover, in 6 appearances in the Women's World Cup, this was Japan's first trip to the finals on this stage.
To make this an even more impressive feat, the Japanese team has never beat the Americans in 25 appearances.
“Before we went to the match tonight we had some commentary on television and we heard comments on the situation in Japan,” coach Norio Sasaki said after Japan upset the Americans for the World Cup title in a riveting final Sunday night, 3-1 on penalty kicks, after coming from behind twice in a 2-2 tie.
“We wanted to use this opportunity to thank the people back home for the support that has been given.”
For a country starving for hope and something to cheer for, this was more than just a simple victory. It potentially signals in a positive shift of change, as this game also marked the first World Cup title won by an Asian country.
“If any other country was to win this, then I’m really happy and proud for Japan,” Carli Lloyd, the US' midfielder, said. “Deep down inside I really thought it was our destiny to win it. But maybe it was Japan’s.”
President Barack Obama was a fan, taking to Twitter on Sunday morning to wish the team well, and his staff posted a tweet after the loss.
“Couldn’t be prouder of the women of (hashtag) USWNT after a hard-fought game. Congratulations to Japan, Women’s World Cup Champions.”