Japan Women's World Cup Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses … – 90min UK

​England’s Group D opponents kick off their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign in just over a week’s time.

This is everything you need to know about the Lionesses’ rivals ahead of the tournament…

Just two of Japan’s World Cup squad play their football outside of their home nation, with two of their defensive players playing in France and the United States respectively. Therefore, many of these players know each other very well and are well aware of their own team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Red Diamonds), Ayaka Yamashita (Nippon TV Beleza),
Chika Hirao (Albirex Niigata)

Defenders: Aya Sameshima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Rumi Utsugi (Reign FC), Saki Kumagai (Lyon), Shiori Miyake (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Risa Shimizu (Nippon TV Beleza), Nana Ichise (Vegalta Sendai), Asato Miyagawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Moeka Minami (Urawa Red Diamonds)

Midfielders: Mizuho Sakaguchi (Nippon TV Beleza), Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Yuka Momiki (Nippon TV Beleza), Yui Hasegawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Hina Sugita (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Narumi Miura (Nippon TV Beleza)

Forwards: Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds), Mana Iwabuchi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro), Rikako Kobayashi (Nippon TV Beleza), Riko Ueki (Nippon TV Beleza), Jun Endo (Nippon TV Beleza)

A hugely talented midfielder who made 79 appearances for her country, Asako Takakura has been at the helm of the national team since 2016, becoming the first female coach in Japan’s history.
She worked her way up through the youth side’s before been handed the role in charge of the senior team, leading her side to 2018 Asian Cup glory having implemented her philosophy successfully since succeeding Norio Sasaki.

Her desire to promote youth has payed dividends, with Japan one of the dark horses to lift the World Cup in France.
Japan have played five times in 2019, winning twice match, during matchdays one and two of the SheBelieves Cup, and drawing twice.

This is a Japan side who are gifted technically with a whole host of flair players able to produce a moment of magic at any given moment. 

While the squad is well versed with the expectation levels of playing at a World Cup in terms of defenders, the rest of the side most definitely are not.

Starting with the side they will be expected to beat, Argentina will pose Japan the least threat in a group that also features England and Scotland.

Should Japan seal top spot in Group D then it would present them with a favourable last 16 tie with the third place team from either Group B, E or F. That could result in potential clashes with – Chile, Spain, New Zealand, China or Cameroon.
If progression from the round of 16 is secured, then a quarter final match up would follow against the runner up from either Group A or C. a possible match-up with either Brazil, Norway, South Korea or Italy could be the likely opponent. Success in the quarter finals would be followed by mouthwatering semi final clash against likely favourites to reach that stage, United States or France.

Japan could then set up a final date with Germany, who are the side from the other knockout bracket most likely to make it all the way to the final.


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