Visiting New Zealand held Japan’s women’s national team to a 1-1 draw in their football friendly match last Thursday in Saga Prefecture. Yuki Ogimi gave the Nadeshiko a lead in the first half but a late goal from Annalie Longo gave the Football Ferns a last-minute reprieve. The reigning Women’s World Cup Champions also had to endure losing Captain Aya Miyama went she was sent off after picking up two yellow cards.
Twenty-one minutes into the game, Bundesliga-based Ogimi scored a pass from defender Saori Ariyoshi. But the celebration was not as sweet as it was supposed to be when Nadeshiko Japan’s captain received her marching orders just before half time, leaving the team down to ten women. With the numerical advantage on their side, New Zealand pressed on to try and win the game. Within ten minutes into the second half, Hannah Wilkinson made an attempt to hit the back of the net only to be denied by the crossbar. Sarah Gregorius, who also plays in the Bundesliga, was quick to take the rebound but found the attempt saved by Miho Fukumoto. Without giving up, the Football Ferns found their equalizer when Longo fired home at the 83rd minute.
“We are not in our best condition yet, and even before we were reduced to ten players that was evident in the way we passed the ball,” admitted coach Norio Sasaki. Showing good sportsmanship, Sasaki also praised New Zealand for being a “quality team” and having “talented players.” The Nadeshiko will be traveling next to Europe for friendly matches against England on June 26 and against Germany on the 29th.