Japan’s Nadeshiko, or the women’s national soccer team, defeated Nigeria 2-0 in the first of two friendly football matches with the African team. The women’s world champions scored a goal in both halves courtesy of Yuki Ogimi and Nahomi Kawasumi respectively at the Isahaya Sports Stadium in Nagasaki Prefecture.
While Japan had total control most of the first half, it wasn’t until nine minutes before half time when Ogimi, who plays for English club Chelsea’s women’s team, brought a through ball from teammate Aya Miyama past Nigerian keeper Ibubelye Whyte to put it into the net for their first goal. Megumi Takase almost made it 2-0 at the start of the second half but she missed her chance to do so and just a few minutes later, Karina Maruyama had another chance but this time, Whyte denied the Nadeshiko their second. But at the 53rd minute, Maruyama hit a cross that was parried by Whyte, but Kawasumi was there to pick up the loose ball and head it into the net.
The Nigerians rarely made it into the Japanese territory, and even then keeper Ayumi Kaihori was strong at the back to keep a clean sheet for the Japanese women. Coach Norio Sasaki said that even though they made a few mistakes, it was “a solid performance”. But he also said their opponents were not yet at their best since they were probably suffering from their long journey so in their next match, the Nadeshiko have to expect a more aggressive Nigerian side. The next friendly match will be on Thursday at Chiba’s Fukuda Denshi Arena.