Takakura wants more from Japan
Amman: Head coach Asako Takakura believes reigning champions Japan still have plenty of room for improvement after watching her charges book their place in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018 final, thanks to a 3-1 win over China PR on Tuesday.
The highly regarded Nadeshiko set up the title showdown with Australia thanks to the semi-final win over China PR, a hard-fought victory which came just hours after the Matildas had beaten Thailand on penalties to progress to the continental finale.
Despite Japan’s stellar progress in the tournament, and the fact that they have already secured a place at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Takakura is adamant that the East Asians can improve further yet.
“I think this result against China and the (group stage) games we played against Korea Republic and Australia show that we are definitely developing as a team,” she declared.
“I also believe that our win against China was a product of the two years of planning we have had since I took over as head coach.
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“However, when we talk in terms of being an ideal team and think about being a team that plays ideal football, I have to say that I am not happy at all.
“We are currently lacking so many things. We want to become a team that aims to become world champions.
“We are, though, on that path and all the players are committed to doing that by representing Asia (at a global level) and by becoming Asian champions.”
Japan drew 1-1 with Australia in their final Group B game last week, an encounter which Takakura feels will stand her side in good stead when they come face to face once again.
“The experience of playing against Australia in the group stage is one that could help us in the next match,” declared the five-time AFC Women’s Coach of the Year.
“Our players will have the chance to study the game we have already had against them, and I believe they can learn some valuable lessons from that match that will help us as we prepare to play Australia in the final.”
Meanwhile, China head coach Siggi Eyjolfsson is looking to end the tournament on a high when they face Thailand in a play-off for third, following an impressive group stage campaign which saw the Steel Roses top Group A after recording three straight wins.
“I am never happy when I lose, but I believe we can learn from this match,” explained the Icelandic tactician.
“We did a lot of good things and I don’t think that Japan had too many opportunities, but they made the best of the chances that they did have. We gave it a good shot, but Japan were just that bit stronger than us.
“Now we just have to focus on our next match against Thailand and learn from this game with Japan.
“Overall, we have played three very good matches and we did okay again today when we were up against a very good opponent. If we win our next match we will have won four of our five games.”
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