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Japan Squad for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Japan announced their 23-player squad for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand. Check out here the full squad and players list.

MB
Last updated: 28.06.2023
Japan Squad for the 2023 FIFA Womens World Cup

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Head Coach Futoshi Ikeda has made some massive decisions in selecting his preferred squad for the main event in July as Japan tries to replicate their 2011 success. While the Nadeshiko have not been at their best, they still possess the quality and experience of players competing in European leagues which may help them to do well in the tournament.     

 

History

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The glorious moment for Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup came in 2011 when they lifted the trophy. They beat the United States in a dramatic shootout after the score was tied 2-2 after 120 minutes. It was the pinnacle moment for the side not only for winning the tournament but the widespread joy and the hope of recovery they brought back to the homeland with their success. Prior to the World Cup, the country was rocked by a deadly earthquake and a subsequent Tsunami which hit the coastline. The tragedy killed 19,747 people. At a time like this, the Women's team’s achievement was a much-needed one. All the players taking part in the fairytale journey received civil honours. The win was also big because it came at a time when the women's side had little attention from the federation. Japan also reached a successive Women’s World Cup final in 2015 with the USA once again their opponents. However, this time the holders took the accolade beating them 5-2 and also taking revenge. Homare Sawa, regarded as one of the best in the sport, is the top-scorer at this stage for Japan having scored eight goals. Remarkably, five of them came in the 2011 edition hosted in Germany where she won the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.    


Previous Tournament

The Nadeshiko have participated in every tournament so far with the last one in 2019 ending in the round of 16. Competition finalists the Netherlands obtained a 2-1 success eliminating Japan but the winner for the Dutch did not come until a stoppage-time penalty from Lieke Martens. The forward 16th-minute opener was cut off by Yui Hasegawa’s strike three minutes from half-time. At the group stages, Japan came second to England who topped the group. They lost the encounter with the Lionesses 2-0 in the final group game after knockout qualification was sealed. Japan drew the first match goalless against Argentina but picked up a 2-1 success over Scotland in the next one.           

 

Qualification for Women’s World Cup

The qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was sealed after Japan ended among the top eight teams in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The side advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition to achieve it. However, their journey ended in the next stage against eventual winners China.      


Preparation for Women’s World Cup

Japan played a series of games to prepare themselves for the mega event although only one win from the last six matches does not make a good tale. That victory though came against Canada in the SheBelieves Cup tournament. A 3-0 score after goals from Kiko Seike, Yui Hasegawa and Jun Endo. That was the only time Futoshi’s side managed to score in that period grabbing the first clean sheet too. Otherwise, the team suffered a 4-0 hammering from Euro winners England and three one-nil defeats to Brazil, USA and Denmark.      


Japan Squad for Women’s World Cup


Goalkeepers: Ayaka Yamashita (INAC Kobe), Chika Hirao (Albirex Niigata), Momoko Tanaka (Tokyo Verdy Beleza)

Defenders: Saki Kumagai (AS Roma), Shiori Miyake (INAC Kobe), Risa Shimizu (West Ham United), Kiko Seike (Urawa Reds), Miyabi Moriya (INAC Kobe), Moeka Minami (AS Roma), Hana Takahashi (Urawa Reds), Rion Ishikawa (Urawa Reds)

Midfielders: Hikaru Naomoto (Urawa Reds), Yui Hasegawa (Manchester City), Hina Sugita (Portland Thorns), Honoka Hayashi (West Ham United), Fuka Nagano (Liverpool), Hinata Miyazawa (MyNavi Sendai), Jun Endo (Angel City FC), Aoba Fujino (Albirex Niigata)

Forwards: Mina Tanaka (INAC Kobe), Remina Chiba (JEF United Chiba), Riko Ueki (Tokyo Verdy Beleza), Maika Hamano (Chelsea/Hammarby)

 

Head Coach: Futoshi Ikeda

 

The big omission from the squad is undoubtedly Mana Iwabuchi who has played in the last three World Cups including being the youngest member of the 2011 triumph. The 30-year-old struggled for form and fitness in the recently concluded WSL season with only 10 appearances and just one goal to her name. Recently, her club Arsenal also announced her departure. Still, many would have wished for her selection being an integral member of the squad in the major tournaments. Coach Ikeda said he chose the players whom he thinks give Japan the best chance for the World Cup. It leaves captain Saki Kumagai, now at Roma, the last remaining player of the fairytale success 12 years ago.     


Strength

The squad has a good blend of youth and experience which is pivotal for any side in the tournament. Nine of the players in the squad ply their trade outside of Japan including captain Saki Kumagai who joined Roma from Bayern Munich this summer. The defence could be key for the Nadeshiko to obtain the required results in the competition with Risa Shimizu and Jun Endo powering the flank. The midfield and striking department also has good composition with striker Riko Ueki poised to show her prolific nature.         


Weakness 

However, the pragmatic way of playing has its pros and cons on the big stage. While defensive solidity could defy the odds against even the most lethal attack or cripple the team from posing any threat up front. Unfortunately for Japan, it has been the latter in recent games with the only exception being the big win against Olympic gold medalists Canada. This is potentially a weakness for the side to face a top nation during the latter stages. Japan needs to find a way to flick the switches at the right moment of the game.           


Key Player: Yui Hasegawa


Saki Kumagai being the last member of the title-winning squad in 2011 will be important for her experience and commanding the backline. However, one cannot deny Yui Hasegawa being crucial as well in the midfield for Japan. A sought-after name for his country and now for Manchester City, the 26-year-old has been a top player in her role. Cool under pressure and compose with her distribution, Hasegawa will like to be the stem with her defensive work as well. Japan will not be playing the most attractive football but her work rate is much needed for the side.            


How will Japan Lineup at the Women’s World Cup?



Futoshi Ikeda is expected to make little to no changes in Japan’s approach although the five-at-the-back strategy will be abandoned in the first two matches against lower-ranked opponents. The 5-4-1 is likely to stick as they move further into the competition.           

Japan Women’s World Cup Fixtures

 

Group C

Costa Rica

Japan

Spain

Zambia

 

Saturday, 22 July 2023

Zambia vs Japan

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Japan vs Costa Rica

Monday, 31 July 2023

Japan vs Spain

 

African nation Zambia is in their first World Cup men’s or women’s and will be the opposition in the group opener for Japan. The game take place on 22 July 2023 two days after the event begins in Australia and New Zealand. Ikeda’s side will face Costa Rica next before facing Spain in a battle for the top spot in the group. It will be a major shock for Japan if they do not move into the knockouts. But it will be a surprise if the Nadeshiko goes further deep into the contest due to the possibility of facing Norway in the last 16 or heavyweights Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

 

Prediction 

Captain Saki Kumagai has spoken about how their federation is still not assisting enough in development despite the team achieving so much. This has been the reason Japan fading away from their peak years in the tournament. However, the former winners have potential in the squad to be brilliant on the day even though chasing for the title again is unlikely. Japan could enter the quarterfinal but another exit from the last 16 stage is not ruled out.


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