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Nadeshiko set for Canada test as Tokyo 2020 draws closer

Tokyo: Olympic hosts Japan are set to embark on one of the first major steps towards their Tokyo 2020 campaign, with head coach Asako Takakura announcing her squad for their October 6 meeting with Canada in Shizuoka.

Key stars like Saki Kumagai, Mana Iwabuchi and Yui Hasegawa were named alongside a number of younger players as the Nadeshiko gather for the first time since their Round of 16 elimination at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.

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That exit – a heartbreaking last-minute defeat to the Netherlands in Rennes – signalled the end of a World Cup journey, but the start of an Olympic one, as the Asian champions look to compete for a gold medal on home soil next July and August.

Youth is likely to be a major ingredient in Takakura’s plan, with several promising players called upon after getting a first taste of serious senior competition in France.

Among them were 20-year-old defender Moeka Minami, central midfielder Narumi Miura, 22, and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup revelation Jun Endo (pictured below), 19, with other, more established youngsters like Hasegawa also present.

Canada were also knocked out of the World Cup in the Round of 16, suffering a 1-0 defeat to Sweden, but the North Americans remain seventh in the world rankings, four places ahead of Japan.

The Olympic gold medal is the only global women’s tournament Japan are yet to win, with the nation already making history as the first to win the FIFA Women’s World Cups at U-17, U-20 and senior level.

Their previous best finish was a silver medal at London 2012, while Canada have won bronze at the past two Olympic Games.

Japan squad

Sakiko Ikeda, Ayaka Yamashita, Chika Hirao, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Shori Miyake, Mayo Doko, Risa Shimizu, Asato Miyagawa, Moeka Minami, Hana Takahashi, Emi Nakajima, Arisa Matsubara, Yuka Momiki, Hina Sugita, Yui Hasegawa, Narumi Miura, Hinata Miyazawa, Yuika Sugasawa, Mana Iwabuchi, Mina Tanaka, Rikako Kobayashi, Saori Takarada, Jun Endo.

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images, AFP

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