Argentina Return To Women’s World Cup After 12 Years
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Just like Switzerland many time zones away, Panama had a steep hill to climb going into its game against Argentina at home on Tuesday night. Panama dropped a 4-0 decision to Argentina in the first game of the two-legged playoff. Much of the drama in that fixture took place in stoppage time as Argentina scored two goals and Panama saw two players sent off.
Tuesday night, Natalia Mills looked to get things going for Panama, pulling her side ahead in the 38th, but the goals for the Concacaf darlings would end there. Argentina’s Florencia Bonsegundo put the nail in the Panamanian coffin in the second half, firing home a 65th-minute equalizer.
With that, La Alibcelestes are headed to France. It’s hard to believe that the last time they were playing at the final tournament, Brianna Scurry was still suiting up for the USWNT. Argentina joins powerhouse Brazil and debutante Chile as the third and final team from CONMEBOL.
Though Panama will not feature at next year’s World Cup, manager Víctor Daniel Suárez and his side have a lot of which to be proud. No one expected Panama to even make it out of its group in Concacaf qualification. Their magical run included a string of head-turning individual performances, no one more so than that of their 17-year-old goalkeeper Yenith Bailey. This is no doubt a team to watch in the future.
Now, the three CAF slots and one OFC berth are the only missing pieces of the France 2019 picture. Africa will determine who will represent its region via the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, while Oceania’s sole representative will be the winner of the OFC Women’s Nation’s Cup. Both tournaments begin this weekend.