Italy forward Martina Piemonte held nothing back as she went up for a loose ball in the Zambia box during Saturday’s Group A opener in San Jose. Going up against her were the Zambia keeper and a defender and in the resulting clash of heads it was the Italian who came off worst, suffering a nasty cut that produced a lot of blood and forced her to go off.
“I was very disappointed because Martina broke her nose during the European Championships and was out for a couple of months,” commented Italy coach Enrico Sbardella afterwards.
“These things happen to me because I go in with everything and for everything,” Piemonte said, sporting a blood-soaked bandage on her head. “I don’t hide away. I wanted to carry on, but they wouldn’t let me. It doesn’t hurt any more though, and I’m ready for the coach whenever he needs me.”
It could be some time before that happens, however, the simple reason being that her replacementAnnamaria Serturini came off the bench to score both goals in Italy’s 2-0 win at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, a performance that earned her the player of the match award.
“Playing in a World Cup is just fantastic,” the ACF Brescia player said. “It’s so exciting. I always try to be ready for whenever the team needs me.”
Serturini was entitled to feel pleased with herself, having almost sat out the tournament through injury herself.
“I strained my ankle three weeks before the squad was announced,” she explained. “Then I went to a training camp and the doctors saw that I was recovering well.”
Sbardella’s somewhat risky decision to include her in the squad has been vindicated already, much to the coach’s delight: “She’s one of the youngest players in the team and she’s done very well. She stood out at the European Championships, but she wasn’t quite match-fit here because of her injury and that’s why she didn’t start.”
After scoring her second goal Serturini ran to the dugout to celebrate with her coach.
“I wanted to thank him for all the support and affection he has for us,” the grateful youngster said. “Without his backing and confidence I wouldn’t have been able to fulfil this dream.”
Though she is raring to go for Italy’s next outing, against hosts Costa Rica, Serturini spared a thought for her team-mate Piemonte: “I felt really sorry for Martina. It’s never nice to see a colleague get injured.”
The unfortunate Piemonte was happy to see her replacement succeed: “I’m pleased things went well for Anna. We’ll have to wait and see what decision the boss comes up with now.”
Sbardella has until Tuesday to make it, and given Serturini’s cool finishing and Piemonte’s determination to get back into action, it will not be an easy one.