PREVIEWING JAPAN WNT

 

Nadeshiko Japan

FIFA Ranking: 3 (as of July 2012)

Head Coach: Norio Sasaki

Number of Olympic Appearances: This will be Japan’s fourth time participating in women’s soccer at an Olympics

Group: F (Canada, Sweden, South Africa)

First Match: July 25 against Canada

 

Japan, the current World Cup champions, are setting out to do what no other women’s soccer team has done in the past: consecutively win a World Cup and an Olympic gold. The powerhouse Japanese team successfully qualified for the 2012 London Olympics in September of 2011 through the Asian Football Confederation’s Olympic qualifying tournament. With eighteen nations competing for two spots, the Japanese team powered through the tournament and was crowned champions.

 

2012 Olympic Roster:

Miho Fukumoto

Ayumi Kaihori

 

Yukari Kinga

Azusa Iwashimizu

Saki Kumagai

Aya Sameshima

Kyoko Yano

 

Mizuho Sakaguchi

Aya Miyama

Nahomi Kawasumi

Homare Sawa

Asuna Tanaka

 

Kozue Ando

Shinobu Ohno

Karina Maruyama

Megumi Takase

Mana Iwabuchi

Yuki Ogimi

 

2012 Olympic Alternates:

Erina Yamane

Saori Ariyoshi

Megumi Kaminobe

Ami Otaki

 

Key Players:

Homare Sawa

Aya Miyama

Ayumi Kaihori

Shinobu Ohno

Nahomi Kawasumi

Yuki Ogimi

Saki Kumagai

 

Former captain Homare Sawa was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal postural vertigo in March 2012 and was forced to miss the Kirin Challenge Cup, which was held in Japan. Earlier this year, Sawa stepped down as captain and fellow midfielder Aya Miyama took over as captain of the Japanese Women’s National Team.

 

Prediction: Japan is a very dominant yet calm team that should have no trouble winning Group F. Japan’s toughest opponent in the group stages will likely be Sweden. These two teams faced off recently in the Volvo Winners Cup with Japan edging out Sweden by a 1-0 victory. Unless any major surprises happen, Japan will undoubtedly advance to the quarterfinals where they will play the second place team from Group G, which will likely be France or the United States. The Japanese team has shown growth, skill, and excellence throughout the past year and will put up a good fight in order to earn the honor to stand at the top podium.

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