Ikeda sets Japan final target
Tokyo: Japan head coach Futoshi Ikeda has named an experienced squad of 21 players for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.
The 47-year-old former Urawa Red Diamonds coach took charge of the Young Nadeshiko in 2017 and led his side to a 1-0 victory over world U-20 title holders DPR Korea, to claim Japan’s fifth AFC U-19 Women’s Championship title last year.
Japan are grouped with United States, Paraguay and Spain in Group C, and will begin their campaign against the Americans on August 6.
While Ikeda admitted Japan are in a tough group, he is confident of his team meeting their target of making the final in France.
The Japanese players, said Ikeda, are determined to make the grade for the senior team and will use the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup as a stepping stone to prove their capabilities.
“Experiencing the game at the world stage will help the players development.
“I hope that throughout the tournament the squad and the players, individually, become stronger technically and mentally.”
In the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea, the Young Nadeshiko suffered a 2-1 defeat to France in the semi-finals but overcame the United States to claim third place.
Despite the bronze achievement, Asato Miyagawa has bittersweet memories.
“I participated in the last edition, and played in a regrettable defeat, so I don’t want to feel like that again,” said Miyagawa, who will be playing in her final U-20 tournament.
“I have never won the U-20 World Cup, so I definitely want to return to Japan with the trophy.
“I couldn’t win the last time. There was a physical difference with players from the other teams, but I think the most important thing is one’s desire to win, and the ability to be tenacious in front of the goal.”
Ikeda’s charges have been training in England since June, and will go up against the Netherlands’ U-20 side in a final warm up match before setting off for France.
21 FUKUTA Mai (NITTAIDAI FIELDS YOKOHAMA)
1 SUZUKI Aguri (Mynavi VEGALTA SENDAI LADIES)
18 STAMBAUGH Hannah (INAC KOBE LEONESSA)
13 MIYAGAWA Asato (NIPPON TV BELEZA)
4 MINAMI Moeka (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies)
2 ONO Nana (Kanagawa University)
3 TAKAHIRA Miyu (Mynavi VEGALTA SENDAI LADIES)
17 KITAMURA Nanami (CEREZO OSAKA SAKAI LADIES)
5 USHIJIMA Riko (INAC KOBE LEONESSA)
6 TAKAHASHI Hana (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies)
12 IMAI Yurina (NITTAIDAI FIELDS YOKOHAMA)
7 HAYASHI Honoka (CEREZO OSAKA SAKAI LADIES)
8 FUKUTA Yui (INAC KOBE LEONESSA)
15 SATO Mizuka (JEF UNITED ICHIHARA CHIBA LADIES)
10 NAGANO Fuka (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels/Korea Republic)
9 MIYAZAWA Hinata (NIPPON TV BELEZA)
20 ENDO Jun (JFA Academy Fukushima)
14 MURAOKA Mami (Orca Kamogawa FC)
19 UEKI Riko (NIPPON TV BELEZA)
16 SUZUKI Haruhi (AC NAGANO PARCEIRO LADIES)
11 TAKARADA Saori (CEREZO OSAKA SAKAI LADIES)
Photos: Japan Football Association, FIFA via Getty Images