BY MELTON PAIS
United States coach Michelle French and her Japanese colleague Asako Takakura declared mutual respect for each other heading into tomorrow’s third-place playoff at the National Football Stadium.
The coaches of the long-standing allies see the match as another friendly rivalry.
Japan coach Takakura said the US was a special team to them and they were delighted to face them in the playoff.
“I will bring out the best of my training strategies to prepare the girls to take on the US in our last game,” Takakura said.
“I am not undermining the Americans but if possible, my team should overcome the contest.
“We will show respect for each other in our game tomorrow but because there is a medal before us for the third placing, we will fight hard.”
US coach French said they tried to be the best throughout the tournament but lost in the semi-finals.
She was grateful however that they had the chance to play against Japan for third place.
She admitted that taking on their allies would be a tough challenge.
“Japan is always competitive and tough,” she said.
“We have our respect for the Japanese.”
She said her team went up against Japan in May this on PNG soil during the Tri Nations series.
Japan beat USA (5-0) and PNG (10-0) to win the series
“Now we are delighted to play with them again the second time in PNG,” French said.
“They are so good in what they do; their technical ability on the ball, passing and players are more flexible. It will really be a challenging game for us but my team is ready and prepared to take on the challenge.”
BY MELTON PAIS