Title a confidence booster, says Yamashita
Amman: Goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita believes Japan’s title triumph at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will help to spur the team on to scale even greater heights.
The Nadeshiko claimed their second successive continental crown on Friday thanks to Kumi Yokoyama’s goal in a narrow 1-0 win over Australia, a victory in which Yamashita more than played her part thanks a string of superb saves including one from Elise Kellond-Knight’s 14th minute penalty.
With next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup still to come, the 22-year-old feels Japan’s successful campaign will now hand Asako Takakura’s charges a major boost going forward.
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“This was my first appearance in a final for Japan so I'm truly happy that I played. Both myself and the team produced our best performance of the tournament against Australia,” she explained.
“Looking forward, we are going to face stronger teams in the World Cup and other competitions, so I'm sure there will be difficult times.
“But this title will give us confidence to develop both as a team and and as individuals towards the World Cup next year.”
On the penalty save which rescued her team early in the first half, Yamashita said: “Before the penalty was conceded I made a mistake, so the fact they got a penalty was because of me, so I apologised to my teammates.
“I went back to my line and I think I was just lucky that I was able to stop it.
“I didn't know who was going to take the penalty, but once their number eight placed the ball on the spot, I saw by her eyes the direction she was planning to go and that's where she went, and I was able to save it.”
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