Sunday, September 24

The Women’s World Cup sees Japan exit, but their young players make improvements.

The Japanese team, who were eliminated early from the Olympics on their home ground two years ago, reconstructed their operations by hiring a new coach and prioritizing youth development.

The Women’s World Cup witnessed Japan scoring a significant number of goals.

Under the guidance of coach Futoshi Ikeda, the Nadeshiko scored a record 15 goals, which is the most in any tournament. Hinata Miyazawa’s five goals were more impressive than anyone else, matching the previous record set by Japanese legend Homare Sawa in 2011.

However, it wasn’t enough to fend off Japan, who beat them 2-1 in their quarterfinal match on Friday night. Jun Endo, the midfielder, sat on the field for a long time after the game and watched as Sweden’s players celebrated.

Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani stated that they were going to play against a team that was technically proficient and skilled, but also didn’t want them to waste time on the ball as that’d be their primary focus.

Sweden took a 2-0 lead in the first half with Amanda Ilestedt scoring and Filippa Angeldal taking ill-advised penalty kicks. Honoka Hayashi’s goal in injury time on the 86th minute gave Japan the perfect score.

Mina Tanaka, the forward, stated that they had to spend a lot of time on defense and struggled to keep up. Additionally, they were unable to execute well on offense.

Ikeda stated that the team’s achievements were worthy of celebration. The Japanese team dominated the group stage and ultimately defeated Norway 3-1 in the 16th round.

Japan’s team was of relatively young age, with an average of only 24.9 years.

“I knew when I became coach that I wanted them to go to the World Cup and I, along with the players, have put in a lot of effort. They’ve become part of an equal team and we created an environment where each player can flourish,” he added.

The Japanese triumphed over Sweden 3–1 in the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup, lifting the trophy on penalties against the United States; an emotional victory rubbed off as heavy damage had been caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocketed Japan earlier that year.

Japan reached the World Cup final in 2015, but lost 5-2 to the United States.

Japan recruited coach Asako Takakura, the first woman to manage the national team, ahead of the 2019 World Cup, but the Nadeshiko lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

Following the 3-1 loss to Sweden at the Tokyo Games, Takakura was replaced by Ikeda, who coached Japan to victory in the 2018 Under-20 Women’s World Cup. He also helped develop several players on the team, including Miyazawa.

Endo, who plays for Angel City of the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, stated that Nadeshiko will now focus on qualifying for the Paris Olympics next summer.

“The quality needs to be enhanced even more,” she emphasized.

Ikeda expressed his belief that the young players will have to take responsibility after the defeat.

Ikeda noted that the team is coping with the demanding nature of the world games and can participate in these matches, which will be beneficial for their chances of playing in the Olympics and other preliminaries.


The AP World Cup’s coverage can be found at

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