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Nadeshiko Japan show style

7 Jun 2007(Thu)

June 5, 2007: There were so many positives about Japan's 6-1 victory over South Korea in a women's Olympic qualifier the other night it is difficult to know where to start.

The result, of course, was excellent, and put Japan firmly on course for a place in Beijing next summer with three straight wins.

The manner of victory was also impressive, with the goals shared around and highlighting the quality and technique of the Japanese players.

As always, Japan played the game in a true spirit of fair play, and were a credit to the JFA in particular and the game of football in general.

Clearly not the biggest team in the women's game, they have developed a distinctive style of play and tactics that should give them a chance against the world's best. Like Osim's Japan, "Nadeshiko Japan" are trying to play to their strengths, such as speed, movement and organisation.

And I really like their midfield diamond, of Miyamoto at the base, Sawa at the top, Sakai on the right and Miyama on the left. Sakai and Miyama are both buzz bombs, and link well with their full backs coming up from defence on the flanks.

But, rather than knocking hopeful crosses into the middle, which would be food and drink for the bigger central defenders they will face at this year's World Cup, the Japanese have nurtured a very noticeable and suitable strategy to counter this problem.

The cross will be knocked long, beyond the far post, where a player has pulled off her marker at the last moment, and is able to nod the ball back into the middle. This puts the defence at a disadvantage, and allows the forwards to move in and attack the ball from close range, thereby eliminating the direct confrontation between big centre half and small centre forward.

It is a tactic which yields goals, and can be refined further as Japan play with width and speed and a good attacking rhythm.

There is a good feeling around Nadeshiko Japan, and head coach Hiroshi Ohashi must take a lot of the credit for the way in which they go about their business. They actually look like they are enjoying themselves, and there is none of the cynicism and gamesmanship that blight the men's game at the highest level.

Before the national anthem of Korea Republic, the home fans and Japanese players alike applauded with gusto – and it was nice to see the small band of Korean fans clap the Japanese players after the game as they went on their lap of honour.

The only disappointment was that only 8,779 fans turned up at Kokuritsu on a pleasant Sunday evening.

This team deserves more, and hopefully they will get it on August 12 for the visit of Thailand.


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