The Best In The Women’s Football – Japan
Previous FIFA Women’s World Cup appearances: 1991,
All-time best: 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals
Coach: Hiroshi Ohashi studied at the Osaka sports institute, then became a teacher before coaching a women’s team for the first time in 1982. The 47-year-old sets great store by grit and determination, tactical flexibility and team spirit. After a spell in Singapore, Ohashi took over as coach of Japan’s women’s team in 2004.
Star player: Homare Sawa (29) has been playing for Beleza in the Japanese league ever since she was twelve, the only interruption being a sojourn in the USA with Colorado Rush and Atlanta Beat. An attacking midfielder, she made her debut for the Japanese national side at the age of 15 and has gone on to win 120 caps, scoring 62 goals.
The team: The Japanese players tend to be small in stature, which makes them all the more speedy and agile. Despite lacking strength in the tackle, Japan are dangerous on the break. All in all, they are difficult opponents whose major weakness is their inconsistency.