【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan earn ticket to FIFA Women's World Cup with win over Thailand - AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022
31 January 2022
On Sunday 30 January, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team) faced the Thailand Women’s National Team in the quarterfinals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022.
With the ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ at stake, Japan made four changes to the starting line-up from their match against Korea Republic Women’s National Team, which took place three days ago.
MIYAGAWA Asato (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza) and MIYAZAWA Hinata (Mynavi Sendai Ladies) started as the left full-back and left midfielder respectively, while SUMIDA Rin (Mynavi Sendai Ladies) and NAGANO Fuka (Mynavi Sendai Ladies) were named as the two defensive midfielders. It was IWABUCHI Mana (Arsenal), who started upfront along with TANAKA Mina (INAC Kobe Leonessa), as Iwabuchi made her first appearance in this tournament.
Japan, who advanced through the group stage in first place, carried their momentum into the knockout stage, as they showcased their dominance over Thailand from the early minutes. However, Tanaka was forced off the pitch after sustaining an injury in the ninth minute, as SUGASAWA Yuika (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies) was introduced to replace the striker. In the 15th minute, Sumida was brought down inside the penalty area to earn a PK, but the shot taken by Iwabuchi was saved by the goalkeeper.
Despite the tenacious efforts made by Thailand to keep the match scoreless, Japan broke the deadlock in the 27th minute, when Sugasawa made a sliding effort to convert the cross sent by Miyazawa from the left side.
During additional time of the first half, Iwabuchi linked up with HASEGAWA Yui (West Ham United) to enter the penalty box, setting up Miyazawa’s first international goal, which gave Japan a 2-0 lead at halftime.
With coach IKEDA Futoshi making the change to bring in NAOMOTO Hikaru (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies) and UEKI Riko (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza) during halftime, Japan went on a goal spree in the second half. In the 48th minute, Sugasawa controlled the cross sent by Miyazawa to setup the goal of Sumida, who scored her first international goal. HAYASHI Honoka (AIK Fotboll), who suffered an injury in the first match of the tournament, made her return in the 58th minute to give Japan more options upfront.
Sugasawa marked her second goal of the match in the 64th minute, when she converted the PK she earned herself. Ueki followed in the 76th minute to further extend the Japanese lead to 5-0.
Closing out the match in dominating fashion, Sugasawa added two more goals in the 80th and 83rd minute to finish with four goals, as the striker who entered as an early substitute was named as the Player of the match with her contribution in the team’s 7-0 victory.
The Japanese defence demonstrated a solid performance by keeping Thailand with zero shots on target, as Japan advanced through to the semi-finals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup and secured their ticket to their ninth straight FIFA Women's World Cup.
Now the team will be eying to claim their third straight AFC Women's Asian Cup title, as they return to Pune ahead of the semi-final match against China PR Women’s National Team on Thursday 3 February.
Coach and Players' Comments
IKEDA Futoshi, Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team)
Our top priority was to win today's match and qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup. The players worked really hard despite the high temperatures. We are very excited to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup, but we know that we still have a lot to improve before the tournament. We must first focus on assessing each match and sorting out our achievements and challenges at this AFC Women's Asian Cup. We will do our best to prepare ourselves for the next match.
DF #2 SHIMIZU Risa (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza)
Our main goal for this match was to earn our ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup, so I am glad we were able to achieve that. I was able to carry the ball at high positions in this match, so I focused on delivering the ball to our two forwards and combining with (HASEGAWA) Yui. However, there were plays where I lacked quality, so that is an aspect I must improve on. In our previous matches, we have spent a lot of time on the ball, and I have tended to focus more on our attacks, but in this tournament I am more conscious of taking care of the space and being part of the defence line. It is very difficult to find the right balance, but I want to improve my decision making while cooperating with my centre-backs. I have been very conscious of my physical condition before this tournament, and I have been doing a lot of individual training with my physical coach at Beleza. I am also very conscious of my recovery after each match since the start of this tournament. We will have three days in between matches from here on, so I will do my best to prepare myself in the best way possible and give my utmost effort on the pitch if I am given the chance to play.
DF #6 MIYAGAWA Asato (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza)
This was a tough match with the ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup on the line, so I am glad that we were able to win 7-0. Personally, I wasn’t able to showcase a good performance in my first start of this tournament, so that is something I need to improve on. In the past, I have struggled to contribute to the attacks on my side, so I focused on working with (MIYAZAWA) Hinata to create chances from the left side today. Although we looked a bit stiff at first, we were able to combine to create some chances in the second half. I wanted Hinata to take advantage of her speed, so I intentionally tried to isolate her on the side, while also providing support to create two-on-one situations when she needed help. I didn’t have much opportunity I didn't get much opportunity to play in the group stage, but I was always ready to play, so I was happy to play in the first match of the knockout stage.
MF #23 MIYAZAWA Hinata (Mynavi Sendai Ladies)
I was happy to score my first goal with the Nadeshiko Japan, but I had other chances that I could have scored, and could have created more chances for the team, so I think I still have a long way to go. With the ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup on the line, we were able to earn this victory as a team. We were able to come up with various ways to score goals while controlling the ball possession, so I think this was a positive win ahead of our next match. Our goal is to win the AFC title, but we must first focus on the match in front of us.
FW #9 SUGASAWA Yuika (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)
The defence managed to keep a clean sheet, while many players, including myself, was able to get involved in the team’s goals in offence. Qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup was our minimum goal, so we will try to win two more matches to take home the title. As a team, we have been able to correct our mistakes over the course of the matches, and I think that those little steps have helped us earn today's victory. We will continue to do our best to prepare ourselves and start again tomorrow.
AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022
Date: Thu. 20 January - Sun. 6 February 2022
Top five teams from the knockout stage will qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.
(*If Australia is one of the top five teams, the sixth-place team will also qualify.)
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