PREVIEWING JAPAN WNT
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:
2012 Olympic Alternates:
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.