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28/07/2012

Nadeshiko draw with Sweden in Olympic Game 2

The Japan women’s team drew 0-0 with Sweden in their second group game in the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday afternoon in Coventry, England.
    Japan improved their points total to four, tying with Sweden, who lead on goal difference in Group F.

    In a rematch of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal in Germany, which Japan won 3-1, the Japanese players showed good composure to keep their Swedish counterparts in check, particularly ace forward Lotta Schelin.    
    The Japan center-back duo of Iwashimizu Azusa of NTV Beleza and Kumagai Saki of Frankfurt controlled the backline, while the players up front made good efforts to pressure their opponents.
    The Nadeshiko team came close when Ogimi Yuki controlled a Homare Sawa lob with her chest and hit a volley in the 13th minute, while with Miyama Aya tried with a free-kick from 20 meters in the 22nd minute.
    Sweden, featuring seven players from their team against Japan at last year’s World Cup, looked cautious, but they came close in the 37th minute with a crisp attempt from Caroline Seger from inside the box that Kumagai dealt with well.
    
    The game saw more action after the break with the Japanese players accelerating their offense to threaten the Swedish goal.
    Kawasumi Nahomi hit from the left in the 47th minute, Sawa fired a first-time shot off a cross from Ohno Shinobu two minutes later, and Miyama Aya cut inside the box from the right before blasting high in the 56th minute.
    Japan coach Sasaki Norio brought on Tanaka Asuna from the bench for Sawa at the hour mark, and that helped his side add more momentum.
    Ogimi came close with two good attempts in the 61st minute before Ohno right-footed a Kinga Yukari ball inside the box. In the 82nd minute, substitute forward Iwabuchi Mana connected with an Ogimi pass from the edge of the box, but Japan couldn’t get past Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
    
    Sweden made good attempts through Schelin and substitute midfielder Kosovare Asllani halfway through the second half, and later on attacked hard on counters, which produced efforts from substitute Sofia Lundgren, Asllani, Schelin and Antonia Goransson.
    But the Nadeshiko held firm to the end, remaining unbeaten in their last seven matches against Sweden since 2004 with four wins and three draws.
    
    Japan will next play South Africa on July 31 in Cardiff in their third and final group match. The top two teams from each group plus the two best third-placed teams will advance to the quarterfinals.