Japan still favourites despite disappointing opening draw


Japan and Scotland meet today at Roazhon Park, home of Ligue 1 Stade Rennais Football Club, which will host seven matches in total at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France.

Until this tournament began and records began to tumble, it still held the record for the highest attendance for a match of the French national women’s team with 25.000 spectators in June 2014.

Japan and Scotland last met on 14 February 2007, when Japan ran out 2-0 victors. The only other encounter between the two teams took place in the previous year and Japan were again victorious, that time by the scoreline of 4-0.

Japan drew 0-0 with hitherto group underdogs Argentina, to much criticism from their local media.

Kerr however was keen to play that down:

“I think people are getting carried away with the fact that they’ve only got a point against Argentina.

“Their movement’s incredible so our game plan changes a little bit in terms of how we combat that. We are very very respectful of their status in world football.”

Asked by Japanese media, if she was under less pressure than Asako Takakura her counterpart, she showed a certain solidarity with the head coach:

“In terms of their coach feeling under pressure, if you’re a coach in the World Cup and you’ve previously won it and been runners-up, you’re always going to be under pressure.

“Every coach is in this tournament is under pressure, whether you’re the bottom ranked team or the top ranked team. It comes with the nature of the job.

“I think sometimes that can be dangerous. It’s maybe not the best thing with Japan coming off a surprise draw against Argentina. We’re mindful of that. I think what we have to do is concentrate on our own game plan. But be mindful of the strength that Japan still pose.”

The Japanese women, known as the Nadeshiko, were runners up four years ago in Vancouver. They are ranked seventh in the world. Expectations are high.

Both sides suffered disappointments in their first games but of very different natures.

Scotland lost 2-1 to England but played far better in the second half, having trailed 2-0 at half time. But for Japan, having failed to score against one of the weakest sides in the WWC, pressure is high especially as they finish against group seeds England.

Defeat could practically end their World Cup today with Scotland under less pressure as they are still to face Argentina.

Despite what Shelley Kerr says, it’s Japan Head Coach Asako Takakura who will be more likely to have had a sleepless night.

The game kicks off at 14.00 in Scotland and 15.00 local time.


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