Rising Momiki eyes record third final for Japan
Tokyo: In the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup, no team has ever featured in three consecutive finals.
Having stormed to the tournament’s ultimate match in the past two editions of the global showpiece, Japan now have a chance of making history by becoming the first team to complete a treble at France 2019. It is a target in which Japan midfielder Yuka Momiki has her sights firmly fixed.
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"I may have many goals set for the future, but topping all, I want to help Japan to be champions of the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France," the 23-year-old NTV Beleza ace said. "I want us to keep our place among the world's best and thus we can remain prominent in top-level global competitions."
"I am really looking forward to competing against the best teams in France," she continued. "The Women's World Cup isn't something which you can experience time and again in life. I am sure that it will be an unforgettable campaign for us."
Joining the national senior side only two years ago, Momiki belongs to the ups-and-comers in coach Asako Takakura's new-look Nadeshiko with just a handful of caps to her credit. Despite her relatively modest senior record, Momiki's performances at the recent 2019 SheBelieves Cup indicate she can be a key figure for Japan at France 2019.
In the opener against hosts USA, Momiki came off the bench to equalise with an injury-time strike as Japan came from behind to draw 2-2 against the world's top-ranked side. She went on to shine in the next game against Brazil, scoring one and setting up another two to fire her side to a 3-1 victory.
"It was good for me to score against the world's best team," she said, citing the equaliser against USA, who Japan have faced in each of the past two Women's World Cup deciders. "However, that goal didn't help us win. If goals don't lead our team to win, they make little sense.
"But my goal and assists counted against Brazil because we came out as the winning side. I am proud of contributing in our victory and this match came as a morale-booster for us."
Adding to her confidence is, of course, the fact that Japan remain one of the Asian sides which are capable of competing against the physically stronger European and American teams. For Momiki, it is their superior techniques and team work which see them able to counter the tough opposition.
"[Our strengths] are the players' hard work, the accurate passes and the proper tactics. We have to admit that we are not in the same level of physical ability compared to the world's best teams. But we have proved that we are capable of competing against them. We must always think how we can beat them regardless of the competition."
While France 2019 will be Momiki's first Women's World Cup, she believes there will be no such thing as stage fright for her, having figured prominently for Japan at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Momiki scored four times in six matches as Japan finished third in Papua New Guinea three years ago.
“Yes, it was a memorable tournament for me. We had been expecting to win the U-20 Women’s World Cup but in the end we didn’t. It was so mortifying. But this has given me the motivation to win the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.”
Sources: FIFA.com, AFP
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