VIDEO: The view from Japan
by Samuel Philip Steinbock
Tuesday, 05 July, 2011
Japanese reporter previews England’s Japan challenge.
Ahead of England's final group game tonight against Japan in the Women's World Cup in Germany FATV caught up with Yuki Ohba, journalist at NHK and expert on Japanese Women’s Football.
Starting off by asking how the tournament has been going so far for tonight's opposition Japan, he stated: “So far, so good, with the first match against New Zealand being a tough one with the hot weather."
Japan came out eventual 2-1 winners with the game drawn 1-1 at half time. Yuki Nagasato scored early, timing her run perfectly from a through ball in the sixth minute before lobbing the keeper. New Zealand equalised in the 12th minute through Amber Hearn who headed home a wonderful cross from Ria Percival, although Japan’s ladies kept their composure and continued pressing. They were unlucky having hit the post and enjoyed most of the possession, which paid off in the 68th minute when Aya Miyami scored the winner with a beautifully placed free kick.
Ohba continued: “In the last match against Mexico we saw a 4-0 thrashing and we now seem to see the passing movements and communication going through bringing the ladies into a good position.”
Japanese captain Homare Sawa scored in the 13th minute through a header with Japan continuing to run riot. Sawa completed her first ever World Cup hat-trick in five attempts either side of a Sinobu Ohbu goal. This empathetic victory booked Japan’s place in the Quarter Finals for the first time in 16 years.
“The support in Japan is building with the expectations getting higher and higher and now we are beginning to think of medals," he added. "Anyway we’ve only got through to the last eight once so the first thing to do is to get through that round.
“At the moment the players are very relaxed which is the characteristic of Japan being very relaxed and they’re funny girls until it gets to just before match where they start to concentrate and I think that is a good point of this team.”
With Japan already qualified, the game is an opportunity to experiment and prepare for the future stages of the competition. England on the other hand need a point to guarantee a place in the Quarter Finals.