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Interaction: Women's World Cup spectacles

Myers: Good evening from Portland, OR, USA, and welcome to this week's edition of Interaction at the 2003 Women's World Cup. We've seen 28 wonderful matches of female football so far in the US, and tomorrow we fully expect to see two more as the United States meet Germany and Sweden face Canada in the semifinals. Ahead of that, though, we're going to review what we've seen here with our panel members. I'm Debbie Myers. With me here at Portland's PGE Park are, first, former England international Ms Lisa Brianton.

Brianton: Hi Debbie.

Myers: The editor of Football on Earth magazine, Mr Al Sharp.

Sharp: Good day.

Myers: Taking time out from his side's preparations, Canada's assistant assistant coach, Mr Erroll Waibash.

Waibash: Nice to be here.

Myers: And the director of the WK-League in South Korea, Ms Sung Jin Fun.

Sung: Hello there.

Myers: Thank you all for being with us today. Lisa, what has caught your eye in this tournament?

Brianton: Memunatu Sulemana, Ghana's goalkeeper, has been wonderful. She's been the first step in that team's reconstruction, and I think they'll benefit from her services for quite some time. She can play on my team any day.

Myers: Considerable praise there. Al, who has stood out so far?

Sharp: I'm most impressed with Christine Sinclair. At such a young age she's already won a US college championship, and she's played in a youth final. She may yet play in a World Cup final before too long.

Myers: Heavy expectations for that player. Erroll, what has your team encountered?

Waibash: Well, the German team are looking very good. Certainly they had a good performance against us, and they should be at least 85% full of confidence after their big win over Russia.

Myers: They're certainly someone to watch for. Jin, what insights can you share?

Sung: I think some teams should be thinking about their preparations. Many Chinese players, like Sun Wen and Zhao Lihong, ditched the WUSA this year in favour of several months in camp with the Chinese squad. And they looked nothing like the team that won seven straight Asian championships and took the 1999 final to penalties.

Myers: Indeed, that's a key point I'd like to discuss. We certainly recall just days before the tournament kicked off, when the Women's United Soccer Association, the top women's football league in the world, decided to cease operations. That was a turning point in the sport, just as its first match in 2001 was. Erroll, several Canadian players were WUSA players. How hard was the news of the WUSA's shutdown?

Waibash: It sucked, eh. These players deserve a place where they can earn cash for kicking, saving, and fouling.

Brianton: Yeah, what the hell? What's up with the American population? You have the world's best footballers! Go watch them!

Myers: Al, you've been keeping track of the WUSA since it started. What are the prospects of restarting it, or starting a similar league?

Sharp: I think we have a good chance of seeing professional women's football again soon, but I think that it's dependent upon a few changes. First, they've got to contract their business model. They're publishing books and stuff, whereas they should be focussed upon the product on the pitch.

Myers: Okay, well, I think that we'll revisit the WUSA a bit later on, but let's go to questions first. You can get your questions to us by snail mail, E-mail, text message, telephone, telegraph, facsimile, helicopter drop, or blimp. Our first question is over the telephone lines. Nadia in Salzburg, are you there?

Nadia in Salzburg: What up.

Myers: Nadia, what is your question?

Nadia in Salzburg: Well, I was watching the Brazil-Sweden quarterfinal the other day. You know that play in stoppage time when Kátia was pushed in the box?

Myers: Yes.

Sung: Yes.

Brianton: Yeah.

Waibash: Yup.

Sharp: Sure.

Myers: Thanks for that question, Nadia.

Nadia in Salzburg: But I have not asked my question yet!

Myers: Yes you have. Shut up. Continuing on, we did receive a question on a blimp today, and it was, "Need an auto loan?". Al, why don't you take that question. Do you need an auto loan?

Sharp: No, I'm fine. But thanks for asking.

Myers: No problem. Our next question is from Roberto in La Plata, Argentina, whose E-mail asks what the prospects are for the Argentina women's side. They had a fairly disappointing tournament, Lisa, but -

Brianton: Disappointing? More like humiliating.

Myers: Perhaps, but they showed promise, did they not?

Brianton: I hardly think so. They were toyed with like little rag dolls in every match. I mean, yes they scored a goal against Germany, but only because they let them. I strongly doubt that Gaitán would have scored that goal had it still been nil-nil.

Sharp: That's crazy. You can't dismiss their progress like that. They did a great job controlling possession in all of their matches, and they certainly learned a great deal about tactical organisation from the Japan loss. If they had a second chance against Japan, the result could be vastly different.

Myers: Erroll, when your side faced Argentina, did you notice an improvement in form from their first match?

Waibash: Most definitely. Their players have good individual skill, but against Japan they thought that would be enough to see them through. They figured out quickly that the World Cup is not the South American tournament, and against us I felt that they had control over the match - they just couldn't put the ball in the net. Some work on that and I think they'll be a force in women's football.

Myers: Okay then. We've got another question now, from Chris in Halifax, NS, Canada. Chris, are you there?

Chris in Halifax: Am I on?

Myers: Yes, you are. What is your question?

Chris in Halifax: Awesome! Assistant Assistant Coach Waibash, I just wanna say you rock! We're with you all the way! Canada rules!

Waibash: Thanks for that, eh.

Myers: And what is your question?

Chris in Halifax: How are you guys getting ready for the Sweden game tomorrow? Oh yeah, before I forget: Kick their asses for us! Wooooooooooo! Red power, eh!

Myers: Um, okay, there is something thought provoking in there. Erroll, what is the Canadian team doing now in preparation for tomorrow's match?

Waibash: I think they're doing side drills now.

Myers: And what does that involve?

Waibash: If you don't mind, I think we'll just keep a few trade secrets.

Myers: Certainly. What can you tell us about the preparations, though?

Waibash: Well, does the phrase "ring the bell" help?

Myers: No. Not at all.

Waibash: Oh. Never mind, then.

Myers: We'll turn to one more question now, and it's a fax from Xarlynn in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She... or maybe he... or maybe it... hmmm... anyway, the question is about whether the WUSA has helped improve the level of play throughout the tournament. Jin, how would you characterise the WUSA's influence?

Sung: It's great.

Myers: Yes, but how?

Sung: Well, look at how Birgit Prinz and Maren Meinert are playing, for instance. They both have WUSA experience, and they're leading the way for Germany. Likewise Charmaine Hooper for Canada and Shannon Boxx for the US. Well, I mean, Shannon isn't really leading the way, and Charmaine's playing in defense, so she's not really leading the way either, but they're the spiritual leaders if not the physical leaders. Wait, I didn't mean physical leaders like that. I'm sure their leadership is just verbal, I mean, they don't actually reach inside their teammates and - wait, I didn't mean it like that. They just go all the way - no, that's not what... oh, never mind.

Myers: I see. Well, we're out of time now, so I'll just say thanks to Ms Sung Jin Fun, Mr Erroll Waibash, Mr Al Sharp, and Ms Lisa Brianton for being with us today. We'll travel to Carson, CA, USA next week to wrap up our coverage of the 2003 Women's World Cup. We'll be joined by some of the rising young stars in women's football, whom we may be seeing at the 2007 Women's World Cup in China. Until then, good night.

Brianton: [stifling laughter] So what kind of leadership did you provide when you played?

Sung: I'd do anything to keep everyone happy. No, wait, I mean I always tried to give my teammates what they needed. No! Aaaah!