Norio Sasaki, the coach of the Japanese women’s national soccer team, has stated that he plans to retire once the London Olympics are over. The 54 year old says he has been incredibly fortunate to lead the Japanese team during its periods of growth, as well as during its incredible victories. The Nadeshiko Japan coach adds that he is greatly looking forward to how well his team plays in the gold medal match against the U.S. tomorrow, and is honored that it will mark the ending chapter of his career.
Sasaki’s contract doesn’t actually expire until September 30th, however there are no more games scheduled for the women’s team once the Olympics are over. After taking over as coach in December of 2007, Nadeshiko Japan went on to reach the Olympic semifinals for the very first time at the 2008 Beijing Games. They were unfortunately defeated by Germany during the match for the bronze medal. But the team more than made up for that last year when Sasaki led them to win the Women’s World Cup, beating the U.S. in Germany. Team captain Homare Sawa was also recognized as the Women’s Player of the Year.
Japan are guaranteed to win either silver or gold tomorrow, making it their very first Olympic medal. They will playing against the U.S. again, making it the rematch the Americans have waiting over a year for. Even if Nadeshiko Japan brings home the silver medal, but especially if they win the gold, Norio Sasaki will have led during the most incredible time of the team’s career, and I can’t imagine a better time to bow out.