Shizuoka: Tokyo 2020 hosts Japan officially got their Olympic preparations underway, overwhelming World Number Seven Canada to claim an impressive 4-0 win at IAI Stadium Nihondaira on Sunday.
Mana Iwabuchi, Yuka Momiki, Yui Hasegawa and Rikako Kobayasahi all got on the scoresheet for Asako Takakura’s side, who ended a run of one win in their previous eight games in fine style.
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In their first international outing since June’s heartbreaking FIFA Women’s World Cup exit against the Netherlands, Japan’s superiority was evident from the opening minutes and they were quickly ahead through Iwabuchi.
The 2018 AFC Asian Cup MVP finished off a lovely passing move, arriving to sweep in Emi Nakajima’s wide delivery across Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé to get the Nadeshiko up and running in the sixth minute.
Two goals behind Abby Wambach in the hunt for the all-time international scoring record, Canada’s Christine Sinclair tried to give her side a lifeline, but Japan extended their lead in an impressive second half.
They went two ahead when substitute Momiki slammed home a loose ball after some excellent combination play led to Hasegawa’s initial effort being saved by Labbé in the 65th minute, and the writing was on the wall for Canada seven minutes later, when Iwabuchi got in behind the defence to square the ball up for Hasegawa, who stroked a third goal into an unprotected net.
The visitors looked for a consolation goal but that only precipitated Japan’s fourth, when an injury time counter-attack ended with Kobayasahi slamming a close-range effort into the roof of the Canadian net.
A collision with Labbé ended Hasegawa’s afternoon early, but that knock - and an earlier one suffered by Narumi Miura – were the only negatives on a successful day for the Asian champions.
Japan will meet South Africa in another friendly in Kitakyushu next month, before taking on DPR Korea, China PR and Korea Republic in December’s EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Busan.
Photos: AFC Files
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