The Press Round-up

(Yuki Nagasato’s first-half strike gave the Nadeshiko victory over Sweden in the 2012 Sweden Invitational, Japan finishing runners-up in the three-member tournament behind the United States with one win and one defeat)

The Japan women’s national football team wrapped up their participation in the 2012 Sweden Invitational with a 1-0 win against the host nation. Yuki Nagasato prodded home on the 27th minute for her second goal in the competition and her third in consecutive matches, and was the only Japanese player to have found the net in the round-robin tournament. Norio Sasaki fielded a relatively young side for the match, captain Aya Miyama, second-choice goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto, midfielder Megumi Kamionobe and forward Kozue Ando the only players in the starting line-up over the age of 25. Homare Sawa, Nahomi Kawasumi, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga were named as substitutes.

The defeat was the second in as many years for the Blågult at the hands of Japan having exited the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the semi-final stage in a 3-1 loss, and they meet again on 28 July at the City of Coventry Stadium, their fixture the pick of the Group F games in the London 2012 Olympic Women’s football tournament.

Hindering their final preparations is news that Rumi Utsugi, who was stretchered off the field in the 4-1 defeat versus the US after a poor challenge from Carli Lloyd, has suffered knee ligament damage. The 23-year old midfielder, who supported her teammates in the Sweden match from the sidelines, has not yet been ruled out of making the final Olympic squad, Norio Sasaki confirming that an assessment will be made in early July.

The Under-20 Japan women’s national team completed their two match series versus the United States with honours even, a 1-0 loss on 17 June followed by a 2-0 defeat three days later, as they continued their preparations for the forthcoming World Cup as hosts. In keeping with their respective senior sides, both nations will begin the tournament among the favourites and should they top their groups as expected, a prospective meeting could only occur in one of the medal matches. Japan begin their campaign on 19 August versus Mexico at the Miyagi Stadium.

Shinji Kagawa has departed Narita Airport for his medical at Manchester United, notes the Mainichi Shimbun. The Samurai Blue international’s stay in the UK will be of a very short duration, with his return home expected to be on 23 June.

And finally, the Mainichi also confirms that Kuniya Daini is the President-Elect of the Japan Football Association, and will replace the outgoing Junji Ogura at the expiration of his term. Daini, who represented his country 44 times in a playing career that spanned nearly a decade, and as a defender played for Mitsubishi Motors, the predecessors of Urawa Red Diamonds, has been a Vice-President of the JFA since 2006.

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