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US, Japan to face-off in epic finals clash

The Local · 14 Jul 2011, 05:56

Published: 14 Jul 2011 05:56 GMT+02:00

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Asian giants Japan emphatically beat Sweden in Frankfurt while earlier the United States used their vast experience to get past France in Mönchengladbach.

Despite their nickname Nadeshiko -- a pink flower symbolising grace and beauty – the Japanese are proving no pushovers having beaten two-time defending champions Germany in the quarter-finals, and are now through to their first ever final.

"In Japan, it is early in the morning, but nevertheless there were a lot of people watching back home, which gave us strength and courage," said coach Norio Sasaki.

"That is very good for Japan, we are still recovering," he added, referring to the earthquake and tsunami which devastated the country four months ago.

"There were so many victims in the area which was devastated and even little things like a win can give people courage and hope. We wanted to give them some strength and courage back and we want to do the same thing in the final."

Josefine Oqvist had opened for Sweden after ten minutes but Japan striker Nahomi Kawasumi netted goals either side of half-time while captain Homare Sawa capped another impressive display with her fourth goal in five games.

Earlier, Lauren Cheney, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan kept the Americans' bid for an unprecedented third title after 1991 and 1999 on track. Sonia Bompastor got a goal back for France after 55 minutes.

"They had the advantage of their history, it's their sixth semi-final in six editions of the World Cup," said France captain Sandrine Soubeyrand.

"That made the difference. They were more efficient then us, we had a lot of chances. We need to move up another level."

"It was our experience that won it," said US striker Wambach, whose side are through to their first final in 12 years.

"For about 50 minutes they (France) set the tone and had the advantage and I was really asking myself how we could score."

Despite the French having most shots at goal it was the Americans who went into the locker room with the half-time advantage after Cheney picked up a Heather O'Reilly cross to tap effortlessly into goal after nine minutes.

But Bompastor grabbed the equaliser after 55 minutes as her shot flew past a waiting Gaetane Thiney in the box to curl in off the far post and into the net.

The decision to bring on substitute midfielder Megan Rapinoe proved decisive for the Americans.

And for the second straight game Wambach scored a key header as she rose high to blast in a Cheney corner after 79 minutes with substitute Morgan scoring the third three minutes later.

"I made some tactical errors today, but my coaching staff gave me a hand and switched the midfield around just when France were playing their best football," said US coach Pia Sundhage.

France coach Bruno Bini added: "I'm proud of my players. We came close to winning. The team were nearly there, but the goal didnt come and you just have accept it."

Story continues below…

In Frankfurt, there was no hint of the Japanese domination to come when Oqvist drilled home her shot after 10 minutes past Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.

Her strike took a deflection off the boot of Japan defender Saki Kumagai, which lifted the ball out of Kaihori's reach, but the Asians were level soon after having noticeably raised their game in front of the 45,434 crowd.

Midfielder Aya Miyama drilled in a cross and Kawasumi wove her way through several Swedish defenders to scramble the ball home on 19 minutes.

With Sweden failing to put any consistent pressure on the Japan goal, the Nadeshiko put the game beyond their reach with two goals in four minutes.

Sawa headed home on the hour mark, her fourth in five games here, with Kawasumi scoring her second when she lobbed into an empty goal from 40 yards on 64 minutes to ensure a final showdown with the world's top team here next Sunday.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

06:15 July 14, 2011 by german-guardian
I hope Japan loses because they defeated Germany. But when the reall football starts (men's football) then Germany will win the world cup both 2012 and 2014. Go Germany
08:00 July 14, 2011 by marimay
No you wont. :)
08:15 July 14, 2011 by harcourt
german-guardian: go away, you're a pain !!
08:33 July 14, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ german-guardian,

You should cheer for Japan. If they win, Germany can say that they were defeated only by the best team and claim that they were the second-best team. :)
08:52 July 14, 2011 by wenddiver
I'm kind of surprised the U.S. has a team, this sport doesn't exactly inspire a lot of passion in the U.S. Good luck to the Ladies, hopefully if they win it will be covered in the U.S.

I have an idea to make it more popular though, change the hand rule. You stil couldn't touch the ball with your hands, but you could use them for throwing punches and of course Muy Thai kicks would be allowed.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is still my favorite sport......... Again good luck to the Ladies.
08:56 July 14, 2011 by freechoice
Japan vs USA. kinda reminded me of WW2...hehe..
09:04 July 14, 2011 by marimay
Those Japanese girls control the ball like no other team I have ever seen. I think they are ninja robots... I believe the US has a tough game ahead of them. Both teams deserve to win it, so I won't be disappointed by the outcome.

@ ChrisRea.... Germany couldn't claim to be the second best team, they couldn't even score against japan. LOL
09:58 July 14, 2011 by TheCrownPrince
Sorry for all US-soccer fans (if there are any), but Japan would be an appropriate and deserved Champion. Though the US-women are a very nice team - playing with their hearts and fighting to the end -, the Japanese have displayed some outstanding technical and tactical skills in their match against Sweden. Their passing was often near perfect and they always played thoughtful and with consideration, and the chances they had were worked out brilliantly. For the most part of the match the Japanese clearly had the complete control on the field over the Swedish women. So don't get me wrong, the US-team is good - but the Japanese are simply better.
12:11 July 14, 2011 by Englishted
08:33 July 14, 2011 by ChrisRea

@ german-guardian,

You should cheer for Japan. If they win, Germany can say that they were defeated only by the best team and claim that they were the second-best team. :)

By your logic if Japan win then England are the best in the world because they beat Japan earlier in the contest.

Looking forward to both games may the best time win .
12:17 July 14, 2011 by wood artist

I guess that's why they play the games...so we can find out rather than rely upon opinions. The two finalists play different styles, that's true. Which one can impose their style of play is open to discussion.

Elsewhere on the local, there have been questions about lack of interest in the women's game. If there were more than 45,000 people watching Japan play Sweden, I'd say the women are doing okay. Neither team can really claim a big following in Germany, especially after the German team was defeated. It will be interesting to see the fan count for the final, and equally interesting to see if the crowd has a favorite.

13:16 July 14, 2011 by Daktari


Yes, Japan showed us some great technique, passing etc.

But you haven't touched on the the USA's team.

Do you really think the Japanese team could have beaten Brazil only using 10 women for 60 minutes?

There are both great teams (JAP/USA), but if Japan was "simply" better, than all the bookmakers would have THEM at 2:1 odds....
22:58 July 14, 2011 by german-guardian
@ Englishted

I only cheer for Germany.
00:41 July 15, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, as with the Men's World Cup, there were also surprises in this one.

However, the positive thing about the Women's games is that they are not smeared by lurid corruption, as we saw with the men tournament.

Evil ruined the Men's 2011 World Cup.

Yes, the Japanese do have a solid team. But let's all be honest here.

The nation of Japan has been through a lot this year. And they are still struggling. All of this success is a wonderful thing for their nation. However, if they were to play the top European teams 10 times, then chances are they would lose all 10. The Universe has an interesting way of altering the natural flow of events on earth.

The American team is actually similar to the German group of players.

Both are tall and athletic. Therefore it's going to take a small miracle for the Japanese to win.

Although I rooted for Germany, there is nonetheless something to be gained, if a team other than Germany and the US were to win the championship. If the same teams win over and over again, then wouldn't this de-legitimize the World Cup altogether? A serious lack of competition?
05:36 July 15, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ Englishted (#9)

Yes, exactly, this is my point. All nations can misuse statistics in order to look better. You surely noticed the smiley at the end of my previous comment, didn't you? And also to whom my comment was directed to, right?
18:57 July 15, 2011 by Jerr-Berlin
...most of the comments were sophmoric as expected on this website...

...USA 3 Japan 0...

write to me Monday monrning eh
11:35 July 17, 2011 by Englishted

Yes I did it was a good comment ,sadly the idiot to whom it was directed is too stupid to understand as you see in comment #12
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