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Japan flies in underneath radar to make case for Girls’s World Cup glory

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Japan Fifa Women's World Cup

Japan’s defender #02 Risa Shimizu (C) celebrates together with her teammates after scoring her staff’s second aim in the course of the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Girls’s World Cup spherical of 16 soccer match between Japan and Norway at Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington on August 5, 2023. (Picture by Marty MELVILLE / AFP)

Japan has flown in underneath the radar to turn into the staff to beat, together with England, on the Girls’s World Cup and boasting the event’s main scorer in Hinata Miyazawa.

The USA, the holders, and a European contingent led by continental champions England have been touted as title contenders going into the World Cup.

No person was speaking about Futoshi Ikeda’s Japan, who’re ranked eleventh on the planet by FIFA.

Even again dwelling, expectations that they may pull off a repeat of their 2011 World Cup triumph have been low.

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“I believe we have been left behind by the sudden strides that the remainder of the world have been making,” former Japan coach Asako Takakura, who led the staff on the 2019 World Cup, instructed AFP forward of the 2023 version.

The Japaense went out within the final 16 in 2019 however are already into the quarter-finals 4 years later.

They gained all three of their group video games — a report matched solely by Sweden and England — scoring 11 instances and never conceding.

Wins over Costa Rica and Zambia have been anticipated, nevertheless it was the 4-0 thrashing of Spain which made the remainder of the event sit up and take discover.

They adopted that up with a 3-1 victory over former champion Norway on Saturday and now face Sweden, which on Sunday knocked out defending girls’s champion United States on penalties, for a spot within the semi-finals.

“I believe they confirmed possibly why they’ve been one of the best staff to date immediately,” Norway’s Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen instructed reporters afterward.

“They’re so disciplined and really structured in the best way they play offense and protection.”

Sergio Echigo is a famously laborious to please columnist for the Nikkan Sports activities newspaper in Japan. Even he’s impressed.

“Japan hasn’t actually appeared in peril in these 4 video games to date,” he wrote, saying that Norway performed “old style soccer” in comparison with Japan.

“They didn’t have method however that they had energy,” he wrote.

“However this isn’t an period when you’ll be able to win simply by utilizing your energy.

“Japan use passes, dummies, dribbles. They give the impression of being better than the sum of their elements.”

 Beginning to imagine

Japan's defender #02 Risa Shimizu Women's World Cup

Japan’s defender #02 Risa Shimizu (L) celebrates scoring her staff’s second aim in the course of the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Girls’s World Cup spherical of 16 soccer match between Japan and Norway at Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington on August 5, 2023. (Picture by Grant Down / AFP)

What’s so placing concerning the Japanese is how devastating they’re going ahead and in entrance of aim.

Spain had rather more of the ball however had solely two photographs heading in the right direction.

Japan had eight makes an attempt in complete, obtained six heading in the right direction and scored 4.

Norway coach Hege Riise stated Japan can be laborious to beat.

“They’re an amazing staff with loads of good gamers and techniques,” she stated.

“The mixture of tiki-taka with direct play is tough to defend.”

The 23-year-old Miyazawa, who performs in Japan’s home league, has been particularly scientific.

Combining velocity with coolness in entrance of aim, she tops the scoring charts on the World Cup with 5 objectives, regardless of by no means being prolific for Japan earlier than.

“World, be careful for this one,” former USA striker Jessica McDonald instructed Optus Sport.

“She’s on a roll and as soon as a striker begins scoring objectives it’s so laborious to cease,” McDonald stated.

“When you begin gaining that momentum, when you begin gaining that confidence in entrance of aim, you’re scoring bangers in each sport.”

After low expectations firstly of the event in Australia and New Zealand, soccer fever is beginning to reignite in Japan.

The staff’s deserved win over Norway was front-page information in two nationwide newspapers on Sunday.

“Might we see a repeat of what occurred 12 years in the past?” wrote Echigo.

“I need to begin believing.”

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