Asako Takakura announces Japan squad for international friendlies against USA
Asako Takakura, the new coach of Japan, forms her own squad.
Asako Takakura has announced her first team selection since taking the role as the new Japan head coach.
The squad will take part in the two international friendly matches against World Champions USA on 2 and 5 June 2016.
Nadeshiko Japan squad to play USWNT
#1 Erina Yamane (Chiba)
#12 Ayaka Yamashita (NTV)
#18 Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa)
#2 Saori Ariyoshi (NTV)
#3 Tomoko Muramatsu (NTV)
#4 Saki Kumagai (Lyon)
#5 Yuri Kawamura (Sendai)
#6 Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier)
#19 Mayu Sasaki (Sendai)
#7 Emi Nakajima (Kobe)
#8 Sonoko Chiba (Harima)
#10 Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV)
#13 Rika Masuya (Kobe)
#14 Yu Nakasato (NTV)
#15 Hikari Takagi (Nojima)
#17 Ami Sugita
#9 Yuki Ogimi (Frankfurt)
#11 Yuika Sugasawa (Chiba)
#16 Mana Iwabuchi (Bayern)
#20 Kumi Yokoyama (Nagano)
Video: Takakura’s press conference:
Some notable points:
Ariyoshi, Sakaguchi and Ogimi, all born in 1987, are the eldest in this squad. Takakura said Miyama is the only one still older she wanted to include, but Miyama declined saying she is not in a condition to play internationally. Takakura did not even talk to other senior players. In other words, Ohno, Kinga, Iwashimizu, Kawasumi, Sameshima, Ando and Fukumoto (all in their 30s) are “retired” in Takakura’s mind.
What I find most interesting is this comment by Takakura.
“I want each player works hard to make herself indispensable, someone without whom the team collapses. However, I will do my own hard work to build a team which does not rely on any individual player.”
I doubt Norio Sasaki could ever make such a provocative comment. But Takakura is right. When we speak of competition within a team we tend to believe it means competition among players. But a healthy competition between player and manager is also important.
Two reporters asked why #10 is reassigned from Ogimi to Sakaguchi. We saw #10 used by Sawa for many years was given to Ogimi by Norio Sasaki during the (disastrous) Olympics qualifiers. In other words Sasaki named Ogimi as the successor of Sawa. Then Takakura took over Sasaki and say Sakaguchi is the Sawa’s successor. I believe the reporters’ real intended question was “Why do you overturn the Sasaki’s decision?” asked on behalf of the ex-coach who is undoubtedly displeased. Takakura answered Sawa’s successor is to assume the same role Sawa did and that’s Sakaguchi. Ogimi’s job is to score goal and therefore she should wear #9. Now, in my very personal view, it is most important that Takakura makes it clear she does not agree with Sasaki. Sasaki did a LOT of stupid things.