World Cup Champions Nadeshiko Japan have never won the Asian Cup, but head coach Norio Sasaki says he will prepare his players for winning and clinching the spot in the World Cup.
Nadeshiko Japan have finished runners-up of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup three times in 1986, 1991 and 1995. In 2008 and 2010 they finished in third place, however they have never won.
Norio Sasaki’s squad to compete at the 2014 Asian tournament includes the experienced Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama as well as four first-time selections. View the full Japan team selection.
In the group stage of the Asian Cup, Japan will take on the defending champions Australia on 14, the host country Vietnam on 16 and Jordan on 18. View full AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014 schedule.
The top five teams out of the eight teams competing in the Asian Cup will get spots in the World Cup. Therefore becoming one of the four semi-finalists by being the top two teams in the group will automatically secure the ticket to the World Cup along with the winner of the fifth-place match.
The increased spots may give other teams extra motivation to win a spot at the World Cup and Norio Sasaki says Japan need to be mentally strong and match their will to win.
Norio Sasaki commented on the official JFA website about his squads chances ahead of the tournament:
“Given the various circumstances, this is the best roster I picked. There is no reason for me to say this team isn’t good enough to win the Asian Cup. There are some players who have never played on the national team before, but my conclusion is we will be good enough by getting ready during this preparation period and growing teamwork on and off the pitch with Miyama leading the way. They have been playing very well lately, so I expect them to keep playing that way in this tournament. In the Asian Cup, high temperature, high humidity and tight schedule which has only one day between matches will be tough for us, but it will tough for our opponents as well. The first match against Australia will be the key in our group. We will get out of the group stage, get the World Cup spot and then play the knock-out stage. Winning the championship is our clear goal.”
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