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Iwabuchi credits Japan team unity for MVP accolade

Amman: Mana Iwabuchi has credited the entire Japan squad for her success after being awarded the Most Valuable Player presented by TOYOTA following Friday’s 1-0 win over Australia in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018 final.

The talented striker scored twice and was an ever-present for the Nadeshiko throughout the tournament, with her display in the final only serving to further underline the 25-year-old’s growing reputation. 

However, despite her glowing reviews and well-deserved personal accolades, Iwabuchi was quick to dedicate the award to those around her.

“We won this AFC Women’s Asian Cup title because we played as a team,” she declared.

“I believe my award is simply a result of just that – the team working together, I would like to say many thanks to them.

“I am just happy that I could play all five matches during this tournament, personally speaking I should now look to develop more as a player going forward and, in the process help the team more.

“During the Asian Cup, the team developed little by little, and the fact that we won is a result of what we have been doing. However, we must develop more, and this is just another beginning for the team.

“We now need to continue working hard as we start to prepare for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

Commenting on Iwabuchi’s performances, Japan head coach Asako Takakura said: “I would really like to say congratulations to Mana.

“She has played terrifically well for us throughout the entire competition and she has been a very talented player since she was young.

“I now hope that both she and the rest of the girls continue to work hard in the future.”