Amman: Reigning AFC Women’s Asian Cup champions Japan showed they are title contenders once again, cruising to a 4-0 Matchday One victory over Vietnam on Saturday.
Early strikes from Kumi Yokoyama and Emi Nakajima put the Nadeshiko in the driver’s seat, before Mana Iwabuchi and substitute Mina Tanaka added gloss to the scoreline after half-time.
Japan, led by a standout performance from Iwabuchi, who provided two assists in addition to her goal, were rarely tested by the Southeast Asians and started emphatically as they seek to defend the continental title they won in Vietnam four years ago.
It took just three minutes for Asako Takakura’s charges to open the scoring through Yokoyama, who punished some poor Vietnamese defending to beat a sluggish Dang Thi Kieu Trinh from 15 metres.
The match was played on Japan’s terms and, with over 70 percent of possession, they kept Vietnam pinned to their own half for long periods as they struggled to gain a foothold in the contest.
With superiority becoming increasingly evident, the Nadeshiko duly doubled their lead in the 16th minute, when Nakajima was on hand to lift the ball above Dang from close range to make it 2-0 after being expertly provided by Iwabuchi.
Featuring four FIFA Women’s World Cup-winners in their starting line-up, Japan continued to threaten, but Vietnam managed to stem the tide somewhat and survived until half-time without falling further behind.
Iwabuchi remained the chief destroyer after the break, drawing two smart saves from Dang and hitting the post with a header, before scoring a deserved goal to put Japan out of sight at 3-0 in the 57th minute.
Tanaka replaced Yokoyama in the 63rd minute, and added her name to the scoresheet just three minutes later after the luckless Dang spilled Aya Sameshima’s shot directly into her path.
Such was Japan’s dominance that it took until the 67th minute for Mai Duc Chung’s side to register their first shot on target, with Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung’s effort the only moment resembling a Vietnamese goal scoring opportunity.
At the other end of the pitch, Japanese chances continued to flow without further reward as Group B’s top seeds eased to a comprehensive win.
They are expected to face a more difficult challenge against Korea Republic at Amman International Stadium on Tuesday, while Vietnam will meet world number six Australia on the same day.