The Japan women’s national team had an outstanding start to the 2010s, winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 in Germany, took home a silver medal at the Olympics in London in 2012, and finished as runners-up in the 2015 World Cup in Canada. The present generation, however, hasn’t yet lived up to the raised expectations, as seen by their ouster from the World Cup’s last 16 and their quarterfinal departure from their country’s Olympics two years ago. The squad needed a fresh start to recapture the title of world champion when the current coach, Futoshi Ikeda, came over in October 2021. Japan will compete in its first international event since he assumed office at this World Cup.
Many of the players on this year’s squad have previously excelled at World Cups for their age group, and they as a whole are getting better with each game. The team’s World Cup success will have a significant influence on future public interest in women’s football in Japan. Ikeda undoubtedly increased interest in the competition by leaving out the squad’s best player, Mana Iwabuchi.
This year, Futoshi Ikeda, the coach guided Japan to victory in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2018. She has selected a number of his former players for the senior national squad. His four-year professional playing career as a defender was spent exclusively with Urawa Reds. As a manager, he is renowned for his upbeat disposition and enthusiastic management style. The players call their manager Atsuo, which translates to “fiery man,” and they have given him that moniker.
Mina Tanaka, the team’s oldest striker at 29 years old, is also the team’s top scorer with 24 goals. She has grown into an accomplished striker and has four times won the Japanese domestic league’s top scorer award. Ever since she scored against Germany on her full international debut in 2013, her capacity to deliver when it matters has been clear. Tanaka can break through defenses, shoot hard with either foot and has the physical strength to keep up with the game.
Fujino Aoba. Recently, one of Japan’s WE League’s five emerging talents was selected is an intriguing new face. The 19-year-old was selected for the main national squad last year. She has already established herself as a huge presence in the team and is ready for this World Cup.
Manga is Riko Ueki’s one and only love. The striker posts live videos with a manga theme on a social media account, completely dedicated to it. She owns more than 1,000 volumes of manga with walls covered with manga artwork. On her way to matches, she always reads manga.
State of Football
Since the Japan national team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011, there have been substantial changes to the landscape of women’s football. Football has become one of the most popular sports for ladies in Japan since more females have started playing it. The WE League, the first completely professional league, began play in 2021–2022 and just finished its second season. All games are streamed live on the website Dazn. Given the service’s still-relatively-low viewership, this World Cup’s results will be crucial to its future success.
Of course, Japan wants to win the world championship. Their immediate objective is to advance to the quarterfinals after failing to do so in the previous year. Japan will play Zambia in Group C, followed by Costa Rica and a challenging test against Spain. Japan should be able to evolve into championship contenders via the competition as the squad is still in the developmental stage.
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