German Portanova: "We are going to play the three games of our lives"

End of the year. The players of the National Team were preparing to receive 2023 when they received a message on the WhatsApp group. It was from German Portanova. Happy Holidays? Yes later. Before, precise information about the Italian players, the first rival of the Argentines in the World Cup that starts on Thursday.

The 49-year-old coach of the women’s team has been focused for months on the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and has carefully studied all the teams, especially for their debut. “Poor Dalila (Ippolito, the only one on the squad in Italian football) drove her crazy,” the players joke.

Portanova speaks calmly and in the first person plural in feminine: “We are going to play the three games of our lives. We don’t mark the result much because if we win we won’t be better, but we have to compete in the best way, follow the process and, God willing, remain in history”.

In addition, “Flaco” is excited about what his players are about to experience. “When I found out that each one was going to charge $30,000 to participate, my eyes filled with tears because they deserve it. Each girl, each woman who is here has a life story that was not easy. They went through a lot with perseverance and admirable professionalism. That this happens is very good and I celebrate it”, says the DT of Argentina since mid-2021 in an interview with Télam on the AFA premises.

What does it mean for you to lead the women’s team?

–When they assigned me it was incredible, it’s the best that can happen to you. I have been working in women’s soccer for 10-12 years and they call you to be in this place, to represent your country, to be able to qualify Argentina for a World Cup. They were unexpected and unique things but the race continues and I want to grow with the National Team. All day I think about how to improve.

–The goal or dream is to win a World Cup match for the first time. How close do you feel?

These players want to play well from day one. We went from low to high and these three World Cup games are difficult and part of the process. God willing we can remain in history. I inherited a group with a very important crack that everyone knows and it is day to day. They have strong personalities, the psychologist tells us that situations of wanting to unite should not be forced, but coexistence is cordial and on the pitch they are very close and we are moving forward.

–The World Cup group is quite complicated…

–Yes, Italy plays at an incredible pace, has a lot of back and forth, fast transitions. The South Africans, with their speed up, are able to feel better on the counterattack. And Sweden is a power that we will try to play within what they leave us without losing our essence. ‘We’ want to show that we are not the Argentina that only has claw but also has talent, stars and plays.

– Is there more pressure after the third star of the men’s game in Qatar 2022?

–The difference we make with the men’s because obviously we are Argentine, we have that DNA and we want to win. We enjoyed the men’s game with the family, it was exciting and we celebrated the third as fans. But the feminine was born in a different way, we are many years behind several selections. Of 100 Argentines, 99 want to be soccer players. Of 100 Argentines, 3 want to be players. There are many women who like soccer, but players want to be few. The story is very different but we have faith to compete and achieve what we want.

–How is the level of the soccer players who play abroad compared to those who do it in the local environment?

-Those from outside make a difference, it is a reality. It is very difficult for a club from abroad to hire you, you are going to rank, grow and pay a flat fee. Here you are the protagonist and scorer but outside you go to the bank and you have to adapt, go through a process, but many remained professional and are playing in Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Mexico…

–How much did women’s football grow in Argentina?

-Just now you see more girls playing soccer, a few years ago it was rare, but there is an open-mindedness in the country. In the capable masculine that the Sub 20 has three good teams to put together, you lift a stone and a talented soccer player comes out. We have to continue working at an early age, many of the players have not had these processes and stimuli since they were girls and that when it comes to competing is a shortcoming.

–Who are the candidates in this World Cup?

I don’t know if they are candidates but the ones that I think play the best are Spain and Japan, I love how they play. Maybe they close well and counterattack them at that level and they don’t reach the final, but I spend hours watching those two teams.

What place does faith occupy in your life?

–One hundred percent, everything depends on God and I am here thanks to him, beyond my work and what I tried to do to be here. For me, the adverse moments of life are his will and we must accept them, and they will surely leave us a lesson.

To Chacarita. There Carlos Bianchi sent him to Portanova when he was fighting for the position of defender in Vélez with players like Trotta and Sotomayor. And there was today the DT of the Selection. “He was limited but a fighter,” he describes himself. As a soccer player, he also went through Tristán Suárez, Cerro Porteño from Paraguay, Chile and regional teams from Italy.

When he was directing the youth teams at UAI Urquiza, he was offered to lead the women’s team, where he found his place and was successful: he won three Argentine championships (2014, 2017/18 and 2018/19) and played in Libertadores (2015, 2018 and 2019). . Now, more than 20 years after leaving Vélez del ‘Viceroy’, she is facing the biggest challenge of her career: her first World Cup.

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