Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Edmonton: Coach Norio Sasaki believes his Japan side deserved their FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final 2-1 win over England at the Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday (local time).
Midfielder Aya Miyama had given Japan the lead from the spot shortly after the half hour mark, an advantage that was wiped out seven minutes later when England’s Fara Williams equalised with the game’s second penalty.
With extra-time looming, England’s Laura Bassett diverted the ball into her own net to send Japan through to the final where they will face the USA in a repeat of their historic 2011 title triumph.
“England were more mobile than I was expecting, and we struggled to cause them problems,” said Sasaki.
“We didn’t play as well as I’d hoped, but when you qualify, it means you’ve achieved your objective.
“As for the own goal, I feel sorry for the player, but Yuki Ogimi was right behind her ready to pounce, so I don’t think it would have made a difference either way.
"We still created the goal-scoring opportunity ourselves – for me, it’s more a goal made by Nahomi Kawasumi and Ogimi than an own goal.”
Sasaki also attributed their success to the motivational boost given by fellow squad member Kozue Ando who suffered an ankle fracture during Japan's 1-0 Group Stage win against Switzerland, an injury which ruled her out of the rest of the tournament.
“In the dressing room, Kozue Ando told the players over the phone that she would be at the final in Vancouver to support them,” Sasaki said. “I think that provided them with the motivation to qualify.”
Photo: FIFA/Getty Images