By ISAAC LIRI
JAPAN strolled into the quarter-finals of the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup after a 5-0 thrashing of Canada at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby yesterday.
Having registered a win and a loss in their respective group B matches earlier, Japan had to keep their finals hopes alive and proved their class against the Canadians, who competed well enough but lacked the finese to trouble coach Asako Takakura’s side on a breezy afternoon.
Takakura said with the quarter-finals berth sewn up, his side could now focus on improving their game for the challenge ahead.
“It was good outcome for us in the game to the finals and they will go back to training and prepare,” Takakura said.
“Though the game was tough, our control was good. We maintained the control that is why we got that the result.
“Losing to Spain gave us some confidence to strive better and that is what we did, we played as a team and gave our best and now we look forward to the finals.
“We will trust our game going to the finals and this time we know that it is the knockout so we will do our best to win all the games,” he said.
The opening 12 minutes of the match saw Japan dominate possession but Canada were able to repel the Japanese onslaught and have some of their own attacking opportunities in the opposition half.
Canada’s attampts were handled by the Japanese defence but showed how much the Canadians themselves had improved over the course of their group matches.
It was only a matter of time before the glut of possession enjoyed by the Japanese would tell and midfielder Yui Hasegawa slotted the first goal for her side in the 26th minute.
With the momentum, Japan continued to put pressure on the Canadian defence at the goal but nothing came of it.
A lot of the credit would have to go to Canadian goal-keeper Lysianne Proulx, who worked well with her defenders to thwart several attampts in front of goal or from corners.
Despite the brave effort by the Canadian defence Mami Ueno found space to send home her side’s second goal to take a 2-0 lead into half time.
Goals by Honoka Hayashi, Hasegawa, for her second, and a 73rd minute effort by Hina Sugita capped off a dominant showing by the Japanese.
By ISAAC LIRI