Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Edmonton: Central defender Azusa Iwashimizu has urged Japan to maintain their wining form ahead of their FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final against England on Wednesday (Thursday in Kuala Lumpur).
The 28-year-old (pictured, left) has been an ever-present during Japan’s most glorious era, winning the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany and the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament silver medal.
She was present four years earlier when the Nadeshiko first blossomed on the international stage as they reached the semi-finals at Beijing 2008.
In the current Women’s World Cup campaign in Canada, Norio Sasaki’s side have constantly defied opposition attacks due to both a solid structure and resolute individual performances as Japan have conceded only twice in their five matches thus far, and have yet to concede prior to the 90th minute.
“I believe we can do a lot better, and we are all working hard on it,” Iwashimizu told FIFA.com. “In the quarter-final, we had a good tempo in offence and created chances, but we couldn't score when we had that rhythm, and the goal was from a set-play.
“There were some good parts in the (quarter-final) match against Australia but I think the match against Netherlands was also good.”
One area in which the Japanese will be looking to improve is goal-scoring with the reigning champions winning all five matches by a single goal.
“We are creating chances and we are finishing our attacks with shots on goal,” Iwashimizu continued. “Now we must turn that into a better outcome, and we have been working on that in training.”
And Iwashimizu remains wary of England, a side they have never beaten in the three matches between the two nations. In fact, the Three Lionesses were the only team to beat Japan at Germany 2011 during Japan’s charge to the silverware.
“Each one of the players can play offensively and carry the ball forward, rather than through individual passes,” she said. “And also their long straight passes are high in quality, so we need to handle that well defensively, and it will be my job to not let them do what they want to do in front of goal.”
If Japan beat England, they will play the USA, who downed Germany 2-0 in their semi-final outing on Tuesday (Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur), in what will be a repeat of the final showdown at Germany 2011 where the Nadeshiko beat the Americans on penalties.