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FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011: Japan’s Probable Eleven For The Final Against USA
Japan and the USA are set to meet in the final of the 2011 FIFA World Cup, on Sunday, July 17. Both teams came through their semi-final matches against Sweden and France respectively, with exactly the same score of 3 -1. In this article, I am going to analyze who are the top eleven players that Japan should use in the final against the USA.
The following 21 players make up the Japanese team in the world cup: Nozomi Yamago, Yukari Kinga, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Kyoko Yano, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Kozue Ando, Aya Miyama, Nahomi Kawasumi, Homare Sawa, Shinobu Ohno, Miho Fukumoto, Rumi Utsugi, Megumi Kamionobe, Aya Sameshima, Asuna Tanaka, Yuki Nagasato, Karina Maruyama, Megumi Takase, Mana Iwabuchi, Ayumi Kaihori.
The team has three goalkeepers in Yamago, Fukumato and Kaihori, seven defenders in Kinga, Iwashimizu, Kumagai, Yano, Kamionobe, Sameshima and Tanaka, five midfielders in Sakaguchi, Miyama, Kawasumi, Sawa and Utsugi, and six forwards , in Ando, Ohno, Nagasato, Maruyama, Takase and Iwabuchi.
The oldest player in the squad, but not the player with the biggest cap, is goalkeeper Yamago, 36, who is yet to play a game in this world cup. The only other player over 30 is skipper Sawa, who is also 32 years old and is the team’s most experienced player, with 170 caps. The most impressive and actually shocking statistic is that Sawa scored 78 goals in those 170 appearances. Next to Sawa, the most experienced international player in the Japanese squad is striker Nagasato, who at the relatively young age of 24 has already played in 67 games for her country.
In fact, this is a young team, with every other player under the age of 30. The majority of players play club football for Japanese clubs, mainly INAC Kobe Leonessa. Only four play for clubs outside of Japan. Ando and Nagasato play for German clubs FCR 2001 Duisburg and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, while Sameshima plays for US club team Boston Breakers, and Utsugi represents Montpellier HSC from France.
Starting with the match against New Zealand, through to the quarter-final against Germany, Japan played with the same eleven players, as follows: Kaihori, Kinga, Iwashimizu, Kumagai, Sameshima, Sakguchi, Miyama, Sawa, Ando, Ohno and Nagasato. In other words, the Japanese coach went with a goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.
But against Sweden, in a change of tactics, coach Nori Sasaki dropped his most experienced striker Nagasato and her place was taken by Kawasumi. The move paid off as midfielder Kawasumi, who was used as a striker on the night, scored a string of goals that went a long way in Japan’s stunning win over Sweden, earning them a place in the final.
There is a saying in English, which goes, “If it ain’t, broke, don’t fix it.” Following that principle, in the final, I would prefer to play the same Japanese squad that acquitted themselves so well against Sweden. Which means, no Nagasato in the final. With due respect to Nagasato who has been excellent for Japan, in the past, with 32 goals, in 67 games, I would prefer the woman in form, Kawasumi, with Nagasato on the bench, ready to act anytime there is coach Sasaki wanted him.
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