Asian Watch: Japan go for youth, Milicic staying on, Yoon sets realistic target
Kuala Lumpur: With the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 now less than month away, the Continent's five teams have continued their build-up with another eventful week on and off the pitch.
Asia's first France 2019 squad announcement - and more silverware for the world-beating Saki Kumagai - make Japan the headline act of this week's wrap-up, while the head coaches of Australia, Korea Republic and China have each been in the news.
See also :
Young Nadeshiko quartet named in Japan squad
Asian champions Japan became the first team from the continent to name their final squad for France 2019, with head coach Asako Takakura revealing her 23-strong contingent at a Tokyo press conference on Friday.
While a number of familiar faces - including five survivors from their historic World Cup-winning squad of 2011 - will be present in France, much of the reaction to the announcement centered around the inclusion of Riko Ueki (19), Jun Endo (18), Asato Miyagawa (21) and Moeka Minami (20), all of whom starred as Japan won the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France last August.
【🎥メンバー発表会見ハイライト】映像の最後には、会見直後の #高倉麻子 監督からサポーターの皆さんに向けたメッセージも！#nadeshiko #世界のなでしこ— なでしこジャパン (@jfa_nadeshiko) May 10, 2019
6/11 1:00 vsアルゼンチン🇦🇷
6/14 22:00 vsスコットランド🏴
6/20 4:00 vsイングランド🏴
Overall, 14 of Takakura's squad are 23 or younger, signaling a distinct generational shift ahead of France 2019, and next year's Tokyo Olympics.
Milicic in it for the long haul with Australia
Ante Milicic will remain as the Head Coach of the Westfield @TheMatildas until the completion of Australia’s 2020 Summer Olympics campaign after a one-year contract extension was finalised. #GoMatildas— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) May 10, 2019
Full story: https://t.co/PO9nmxUwVx pic.twitter.com/NPN8I7MUiy
Speculation that Ante Milicic's tenure as Australian head coach would be a short one has been quashed, with the 45-year-old signing on in the role until the end of the Tokyo Olympics in August 2020.
Milicic - who replaced Alen Stajcic in February - said: “The continuity this will foster can only benefit the belief and preparation leading into the Women’s World Cup campaign in France, but more importantly I think it demonstrates the deep belief that I have in this special group of players."
Meanwhile, Alex Chidiac's place in Australia's soon-to-be-announced World Cup squad is uncertain, but the 20-year-old already has a title under her belt in 2019 after her Atlético Madrid side sealed Spain's Primera División title on Sunday.
Kumagai claims another honour
Another week, another trophy for Saki Kumagai, as the Japanese captain collected her second piece of silverware of the season with the all-conquering Olympique Lyonnais, who beat LOSC Lille 3-1 to lift the Coupe de France Féminine on Wednesday.
Lyon, who have won 13 of the 14 French domestic trophies on offer since Kumagai joined the club in 2013, previously wrapped up this season's French league title ahead of Wang Shuang's Paris Saint-Germain.
With the domestic double secured, Kumagai and co will look to claim their fourth consecutive UEFA Women's Champions League crown against Barcelona in Budapest on May 18.
Round of 16 the goal for Yoon
View this post on Instagram
EP.2 : 무한 경쟁 프랑스 월드컵 본격 훈련 돌입 #그라운드의적막을깨라 | 2019 프랑스 월드컵 EP.2 ⠀⠀⠀ #경쟁하라 #나아가라 #이겨내라 하지만 무엇보다 중요한 것은 #함께하라 ⠀⠀⠀ ✔친선경기 🇰🇷v🇸🇪 #스웨덴 06.01(토) 01:45 🏟 스웨덴 예테보리 감라 울레비 스타디움 ⏰ 한국시간 기준 ⠀⠀⠀ ✔ 2019 FIFA 프랑스 여자월드컵 조별예선 ⏰ 한국시간 기준 🏟 프랑스개최 🇰🇷v🇫🇷 #프랑스 2019.06.08(토) 04:00 🇰🇷v🇳🇬 #나이지리아 2019.06.12(수) 22:00 🇰🇷v🇳🇴 #노르웨이 2019.06.18(화) 04:00
The knockout stage or bust; that's the Women's World Cup scenario for Korea Republic according to head coach Yoon Duk-yeo, who stressed the importance of perspective when addressing the Korean media at his side's training camp in Paju on Tuesday.
After highlighting a second successive appearance in the last 16 as an achievable goal, Yoon said "in order to beat France, Nigeria and Norway, our players have to be in the best possible shape they can be," adding, "We have to look reality squarely in the face. Though we have improved, we aren't yet among the top teams in the world. We have to go out there and play with energy against some of the European powers."
We didn't get the result we wanted but I'm grateful to my @westhamwomen family who all gave their best. They are the reason I smile. Let's get stronger and come back next year!! 👊👊👊👊👊 COYI pic.twitter.com/9DNBwMgbSh— Cho So-hyun 조소현 (@Cho8Sohyun) May 6, 2019
On-field leader Cho So-hyun will be a key figure in Korea Republic's push for the business end of the tournament, but her maiden appearance in the FA Cup final ended in disappointment last Saturday, with her West Ham United outfit suffering a 3-0 defeat against Manchester City.
Jia: China PR must show the heart of champions
While Korea Republic's boss is keeping a lid on his side's chances, China PR head coach Jia Xiuquan has previously revealed his 'ultimate goal' is to be World Cup winners, and the former men's international this week called on his side to show the heart of champions in the Finals
The Steel Roses reached the final when they boasted star names such as Sun Wen and Liu Ailing back in 1999 (pictured below), but - drawn alongside Germany, Spain and South Africa - they are not widely considered to be among the top contenders this time around.
While Jia concedes there is a gap between China's glory days and their current progress, the 1984 AFC Asian Cup MVP believes it's one that can be bridged by desire and spirit.
"Without a champion, you will never win the championship," he told Chinese media on Wednesday. "So the Chinese women's football team must have a champion's heart. We will make 200 percent of our efforts toward this goal."
Born in the USA: Thailand duo prepare for unique showdown
While California-raised Thailand forward Suchawadee Nildhamrong's delight at being drawn alongside the world champion Americans in the group stage has been well documented - and reached a wider audience this week with the talented 22-year-old profiled in a FIFA video this week - there may yet bet a second US-born player in the Chaba Kaew squad in France.
Goalkeeper Darunee Chantrak - also known as Tiffany Sornpao - has joined the Southeast Asian side's training camp in Bangkok with the aim of earning a place in Nuengrutai Srathongvian's final 23, and possibly facing the country of her birth in Reims on June 11.
The 20-year-old shot-stopper was part of Thailand's Cyprus Women's Cup squad early this year, making her international debut against Italy.
Recommended Stories :