soccer

Japan women eye World Cup/Olympics double

16 Comments
By Shigemi Sato

Japan captain Homare Sawa vowed Tuesday to go for gold at next year's London Olympics as her squad returned home to a hero's welcome following their historic triumph at the women's World Cup.

"It's human nature to want more," Sawa, with a gold medal hanging from her neck, told a packed news conference at a hotel in Tokyo.

The gutsy 32-year-old playmaker added: "With this gold medal in front of me, I really feel that my next goal is to grab the Olympic gold medal as we have yet to get any medal at the Olympics."

Japan, who finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, came from behind twice to beat world No. 1 twice champion the United States 3-1 on penalties in the final of the World Cup in Frankfurt on Sunday.

It was the first soccer World Cup title for any Asian country and lifted spirits in Japan, which has been recovering from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which left 21,000 people dead or missing and sparked a crisis at a nuclear power plant.

With their teamwork, crisp passing and never-say-die attitude more than offsetting their physical shortcomings, Japan upset host and holder Germany and Sweden on the way to glory.

"I've come a long way as a member of the Japanese national team over 18 years. I never thought I would get the gold medal," said Sawa, whose career included a stint with U.S. side Washington Freedom.

"The Asian Olympic qualifying round will start this year with other tournaments and matches coming up soon," she said. "I want to condition myself for the battles ahead."

Asian qualifying will be held in China in September with six nations -- Australia, China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Thailand -- vying for two Olympic berths.

"We still lag behind the United States and Germany in many aspects," admitted Sawa, who won the golden boot with five goals and was named the most valuable player at Germany 2011. "We must improve individual skills much more."

Japan coach Norio Sasaki said: "We were gutted when we finished fourth in Beijing. We will really want a medal at the next London Olympics. We need to reinforce our basics and stay on our guard."

Both Sawa and Sasaki believe the World Cup victory will boost women's soccer at home, where many players are less privileged in wages and conditions than their counterparts in the west, especially the United States.

"I really think Japanese women are fit for soccer. I want them to feel like kicking a ball because it's fun," the coach said.

Sawa added: "I want to tell children to have a dream -- and never give up."

© Agence France-Presse

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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Sawa needs to cut her front hair to make proper bangs.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I apreciate that she says “It’s human nature to want more,” but I can already see the weeping and accusations if they don't get the gold. What's the point of putting pressure on so early and heavily - why not revel in this victory a bit longer?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did Sasaki san really say "We were gutted"? I assume he was speaking Japanese at the time so,to whoever is doing the translation, can we aspire to a better standard of English please? Perhaps "extremely disappointed".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Now I want to know what the Japanese for "I'm gutted" is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would be nice to see a Japanese player (male or female) who doesn't dye their hair.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

'extremely disappointed'? gutted is an endlessly better image of clearly expressing how they felt..is that Harry or Harold ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

On the contrary - "gutted" is the perfect expression for that particular scenario

0 ( +1 / -1 )

First of all I want to congratulate the Japanese team for the wonderful victory. Women soccer is not a popular game, so I guess it is not as difficult to win a medal as in mens soccer event, but still I appreciate this achievement and want to say they did great and deserve applauses.

but...

these soccer players do not strike me as very intelligent. I watched a press conference with them and I noticed I speak better Japanese than them, and I am a foreigner! They could not even remember the questions...Reporters asked them what they want to do after the competition, and one answered she wanted to eat nama food (raw food). Nothing about reading a book, seeing a movie, going to a concert, yes, eating raw food was her aspiration.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

@lovenot: what would you do after months of hard training (which would've been mentally as well as physically draining)? A spot of Tarkovsky? A night at the opera, (ooh, Wagner)? Dip into one of Chomsky's books? Me, I'd want fried chicken and cheesecake, gin, and a hot bath. Does that make me ignorant? Not at all, just tired.

"nama" has a number of translations; I would imagine she means fresh food? I'd also imagine that they've been on a strict diet in the time leading up to the World Cup, and since she and her team won, I think they can all do whatever the hell they want.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Go for it ladies!

I'm glad to see the captain saying they will 'go for gold' instead of their goal being fourth or simply to make it to the finals. I believe the team now has the motivation and spirit to make an Olympic gold happen, so it's important they strike while the iron is hot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

lovenot, I regularly enjoy pointing out grammar mistakes that Japanese "announcers" make but that doesn't make them stupid. We make numerous spoken mistakes without realizing it because we are native. I saw the various interviews and I would describe them as giddy, not unintelligent.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well done on winning the Women's World Cup. Now can we please have a nude calendar of all the players?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Martin007; That comment is as shallow as a worms grave.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Martin007,

Great idea! Love it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Me, I'd want fried chicken and cheesecake, gin, and a hot bath.

@Maria I think if they ask me what I want to do after a hard day, I would have answered great music, poetry and wine and of course reading a philosophical book...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When you are starving -all you can think of is food.

Olympics will be harder and London is football (soccer) central.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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