Chile, forced to play without a goalkeeper in the fight for gold in the women's football final © Getty Images

Women's football made its debut at the Panam Games 24 years ago in Winnipeg, Canada, and Chile had only taken part once before, in Guadalajara in 2011, where they recorded a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, a goalless draw with Mexico, and a 1-0 defeat to Colombia. In the end, Chile was eliminated by a single point.

The growth of Chilean women's football has been evident in recent years, with their first-ever qualification for the Tokyo Olympics (where they finished eleventh), their debut at the 2019 World Cup (where they claimed their first victory) and a silver medal at the 2018 America's Cup.

The hosts had prepared meticulously for this event, as evidenced by their two previous friendly victories over New Zealand, 3-0 on 23 September and 2-1 three days later. The results were excellent, and defied the odds.

Chile was drawn in Group A and began the championship with a crucial 1-0 win over Paraguay, thanks to a 24th-minute goal from University of Chile striker Daniela Zamora.

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Three days later, they took on Mexico, and an early goal from 'U' defender Fernanda Pinilla saw the North Americans come from behind to win 3-1. In the decisive match, they went on to dominate Jamaica 6-0. Eight goals in the tournament and eight different scorers underlined showcasing the consistency of former Chile international Luis Mena's team.

Already through to the semi-finals, Chile's next opponents were the United States, who were at the Panam Games with a U-19 team. 'La Roja' pulled off a hard-fought and historic 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Karen Araya (Madrid CFF, Spain) and a penalty from Yanara Aedo, who is now playing for Colo Colo in Chile after four years in the Spanish top league.

Their final opponents on Friday at 20:00 (local time) will be Mexico, who beat Argentina 2-0 in the other semi-final. But most importantly, Chile will be playing to contend for their first major title with an outfield player in goal. Can you believe it?

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

The two goalkeepers registered for these XIX Pan American Games are Christiane Endler (Olympique de Lyon, France) and Antonia Canales (Valencia CF, Spain), both of whom have had to return to Europe to fulfil their club commitments, as the match falls outside the 'FIFA dates.' To make matters worse, the top scorer Araya and defender Camila Sáez, both of Madrid CFF, are also unavailable for the same reason.

The Chilean Olympic Committee has asked Panam Sports to replace a player with a goalkeeper in orden to cover the goal, but the tournament organisers have refused. It is now up to Mena will now have to decide who will be between the sticks.