Nadeshiko Japan WNT Number 10

Why the #10 of Nadeshiko Japan carries a prestige

Asako Takakura has announced her first team selection since taking the role as the new Japan head coach. See the full squad here.

Even if I am not a fan of conspiracy theory, there is one thing I feel I must tell about, the #10 of Nadeshiko Japan.

First of all, it was a stupid (almost crazy) act that Norio Sasaki gave #10 to Yuki Ogimi, not because Ogimi did not deserve it, but everyone knew 2016 was Sasaki’s last year even if his team went to Rio.

#10 of Nadeshiko Japan carries a big weight, a prestige, because one who wears it is viewed as Homare Sawa’s successor. Now that Sawa is retired, it is a job of new manager to decide who is to assume the position, role, and, above all, status that belonged to the “Nadeshiko Queen.” Why, then, a departing coach made such last-minute decision and left it as his legacy? What did he expect his successor to do? Just accept his will and make it her own initial condition?

But new coach has her own plan and the player who can contribute to it most is the new “Sawa” of the new team. Naming Ogimi to the post, Sasaki stole from Takakura the privilege and responsibility exclusively hers. And here I can’t help but wonder because I know Norio Sasaki is not a fool. Did he do it deliberately? Was it his sinister plot to retain his influence in the national team?

On the surface, Takakura outsmarts Sasaki by presenting a nice reason to retrieve #10 from Ogimi, “Yuki Ogimi should use #9 as her job is to score goals,” thus minimized the humiliation suffered by Ogimi seriously otherwise. However, Takakura was forced to reassign it to Sakaguchi immediately to make the change easy to Ogimi who sees #10 is rather given to the league MVP than simply denied to her. But I doubt this was the Takakura’s original plan.

In fact, if I were in Takakura’s shoes I would rather keep #10 open and use it to motivate players. Post of Sawa could be a big award that can encourage. And who knows the next “Sawa” would not appear among the ones yet to be called to the international A team? We all know Takakura’s real disciples, the ones she nurtures as her treasure, are the U20 players, often dubbed “Takakura children” who will be 22-24 at the time of all-important Tokyo Olympics. Yuka “Nicole” Momiki uses #10 in this team, just for your information.

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