The Nadeshiko, Japan’s football national women’s team, added another major title to their name as they defeated Australia on Sunday to win the Women’s Asian Cup. The current World Cup title holders won the finals through a lone goal by defender Azusa Iwashimizu, whose heroics also helped the team win their tough semi-final match against rival China.
Defending champion Australia tried to breach Japan’s defense through successive attacks but to no avail. The game’s only goal came through a corner kick in the 28th minute and was enough for Nadeshiko Japan to claim the title and also earn a spot in the Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada next year. 27-year Iwashimizu brought the ball to the back of the net after an excellent cross from Rumi Utsugi. She also scored a last-minute goal in extra time during their thrilling semifinal match against China, who has won the Asian Cup eight times and finished the tournament in 3rd place. The defender said afterwards that she just tried to make contact with the ball when she saw her teammate cross it, and actually didn’t know what was happening in front of the goal. “It’s a title we really wanted to win and we finally get to experience it,” she added.
Aya Miyama, who serves as their team captain, admits that they were under a lot of pressure coming in to the tournament, since they were the 2011 World Cup champions. While their goal really was to win the Asian Cup, they also had to play like they were defending their World Cup title. They also were playing to win since the Samurai Blue, Japan’s national men’s team are the Asian Cup titleholders as well. The other top four teams who finished the competition, Australia, China, South Korea and Thailand, also earned spots in the 2015 Womens’ World Cup.
[ via AFP ]
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