While men’s football usually gets the lion’s share of the attention and media coverage, women’s soccer is slowly but surely coming into prominence. Nadeshiko Japan, national women’s football team, is one of the stars of late, having won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and the silver medal at this year’s London Olympics.
And leading the team’s meteoric rise is Norio Sasaki, the coach who has brought the best out of the team, bringing them to unprecedented heights, the best of his and their career. So soccer fans and the players themselves breathed a sigh of relief when he announced he was renewing his contract for another World Cup.
In an interview with FIFA.com, Sasaki shared that he was in a sense satisfied with their performance in the London Olympics, despite losing 2-1 to the gold medalists, USA. He believes they were playing a lot better than they did in Germany, where they surprised everyone in winning the tournament by beating the US in the finals.
He is also confident that Japan women’s football is on the cusp of greatness, in terms of popularity and even more so, in discovering and developing young talent. The Japan Football Association (JFA) and coaches from around the country are building a strong development system. Having had seven years experience in coaching women’s football, particularly the U-17 and U-20 teams, his heart is really in the development of young players. The key, he says, is to constantly produce young talent to maintain and even exceed this level. Mental toughness is also something that he’d like to develop in this current crop of Nadeshiko, because the team sometimes become disheartened when they concede a goal first.
Sasaki and the Nadeshiko will be concentrating on defending their title in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, to be held in Canada. Three Nadeshikos, midfielders Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama and goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto, are nominated for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2012 while Sasaki is nominated for Women’s Coach of the Year.
[ via FIFA.com ]
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