By HENRY MORABANG
THE second quarterfinal match between Japan and Brazil is expected to be a thriller as both teams look to advance to the World Cup final.
Japan will play Brazil at 7pm tonight at Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.
In a combined press conference yesterday at the National Football Stadium, coaches Dorival Bueno (Brazil) and Asako Takakura (Japan) expressed a big desire to win the match.
Takakura, who was part of the Japan senior women’s team in 1991 and 1995, who lost to Brazil, wants to erase the bad memories and would be out to ensure her young charges exact revenge over Brazil.
She said the match would be tough and exciting.
“We have come this far and will do our best against the South American top team,” Takakura said.
On paper, Japan will start as favourites for the match tonight.
Japan came into the quarter-finals as favourites after beating 2014 finalists Nigeria 6-0 sin their opening game and bounced back from a 1-0 defeat to Spain to see off Canada 5-0 in their final group game.
The Brazilians had a slightly shakier path to this stage, only pipping Sweden to a place in the last eight on goal difference.
The Brazilians beat PNG 9-0, before losing 4-2 to North Korea and drawing 1-1 with the Swedes.
Brazil coach Bueno said his charges had achieved their first pre-tournament aim and that was to secure a quarterfinal spot.
“We played many tough games in our pool but managed to squeeze through to the quarterfinals,” Bueno said.
“I am happy that the women made it, with skipper Duda taking the lead from the frontline.”
Both teams are injury-free and are looking forward for the match tonight.
At the senior level, Japan and Brazil are two of the world’s finest sides, with players such as Marta and Homare Sawa, who are household names.
Intriguingly though, the South Americans have rarely beaten the Japanese at any level of international women’s football, either at the Olympic Football tournament or at U17 level.
A Brazil win at the 1991 Fifa Women’s World Cup was an exception.
This will be the nations’ first meeting at the U20 level.
Players to watch include Japan’s Mami Ueno and Brazil’s Gabi Nunes, who are strong contenders for the Golden Ball for the best player or Golden Boot for the top-scorer.
Also in the running is North Korea’s Kim So-Hyang.
The group stage of the has come to an end, with the eight teams left in the tournament each harbouring dreams of glory.
Holders Germany, former champions USA, as well as Japan and North Korea, are among the favourites.
The Asian pair approach their respective quarterfinals in a particularly confident mood.
By HENRY MORABANG