Posted on Aug 08
United States skipper Abby Wambach has ruled out any chance of rough-house tactics marring Thursday's Olympic football final as her side seeks to avenge their World Cup loss to Japan.
The defending champions take on the Japanese in front of a record 83,000 crowd at Wembley in the climax to a pulsating Olympic tournament which has been notable for a rugged, physical edge in several bruising encounters.
Wambach herself was the victim of a sly off-the-ball punch by a Colombian player during the first phase, while a slew of other matches have seen players flying into tackles with no quarter given.
However the veteran American striker believes Thursday's showpiece between the two best sides in the world will be played in the right spirit.
"We have such respect for each other that I can almost guarantee that none of that will happen tomorrow," Wambach said when asked about the physical nature of this year's tournament.
"Teams use those kind of tactics because they may not be better than us tactically or technically so they may think it evens things up.
"But the Japan team is so good, and we're so good, that tomorrow is going to be all about the soccer."
The United States superb fullback Megan Rapinoe, scorer of two goals in Monday's thrilling 4-3 victory over Canada echoed Wambach's comments.
"Both teams have utmost respect for each other on a lot of different levels," Rapinoe said. "We just know that it's going to be a good game.
"There's no animosity. They snatched our dream last year (in the World Cup final) and still we have respect for them. There's nothing off the field, there's no antics."
Yet while the Americans are not expecting a dirty game, the champions are determined to avenge their agonising penalty shoot-out loss to the Japanese in the Women's World Cup final last year.
"It's redemption but it's also an opportunity, an opportunity to show the world that we're the best team in the world," said America's Carli Lloyd.
"This game is going to be different to the World Cup game. Every game is different. We're a different team, Japan's a different team and we're ready to bring it."