A good start, says Nadeshiko boss Sasaki

Nadeshiko Japan coach Sasaki Norio was satisfied after his side beat Canada 2-1 in their opening group match of the 2012 London Olympics in Coventry, England, on Wednesday.

    The Japan women’s side went ahead in the 33rd minute when Kawasumi Nahomi fired home from a tight angle and made it 2-0 with Miyama Aya’s header in the 44th minute before Canada responded through Melissa Tancredi in the 55th minute at City of Coventry Stadium.

    “Our players played with good patience, keeping in mind the need to earn three points from the game,” said Sasaki. “We ran more than Canada did and had good control in defense. We could have scored more goals if we’d kept our heads. However, we scored two goals effectively.”

    The Nadeshiko boss noted that his side’s erratic performance needs to improve ahead of their next game against Sweden, but the win was the main objective.
    “The main aim today was to earn three points,” he said. “I would like to praise our players for achieving that. This win is a good start for Nadeshiko Japan and also for Team Japan.”

    Sasaki said he hoped the Nadeshiko’s result would inspire the men’s team in their opening match against Spain on Thursday.

    Goalscorer Kawasumi, commented: “Playing in the Olympics had been a dream for me and I felt happy I was able to do it. I was not nervous and could enjoy playing football as I always do.
    “I was also thankful to many people for their support. Without that I wouldn’t have been here. I think our win today can bring momentum to Team Nippon in the Olympics.”

    Defender Kumagai Saki said: “We knew there would be some periods of time when we had to be patient and we talked about how we should try and keep a clean sheet.
    “Our attackers scored goals at the right moments of the game, and although we gave away a goal in the second half, we collected three points. That will help us get going in our next game.
    “Our next match isn’t far away and we need to fix a few things. The fewer mistakes you make, the better your chances of winning.”

    Canada coach John Herdman commented, “We knew it would be a tough game tonight. The world champions are the world champions for reasons. They can handle the ball better than any team in the world. But we found some momentum and rocked the Japanese a little bit.
    “We’ve got to learn lessons from tonight. When we were 2-0 down to the world champions, we weren’t finished. Even with 10 players, these girls were taking it in and trying to win.”

    Later in the day, Sweden downed South Africa 4-1 in Coventry to take the lead in Group F on goal difference over Japan.
    The Nadeshiko will next play Sweden on Saturday at the same venue.