Our second test after a very convincing 2-0 win to China is the 2015 WWC Finalists Japan, who are coming off of a 2-4 loss to North Korea. Can we beat our archenemies tomorrow? Read on:
To answer that question I would normally answer with a straight up “no” but it looks to me like the circumstances are a little bit different. Now, let me tell you guys that I know nearly nothing about the Japanese Women’s team. I know basic info about the current J League all star team on the men’s side (club, positions, strengths, etc.) but despite how good their women’s team is the most I can do is recognize some names. So, I tried to venture into Nikkan Sports to dig for some predictions from Japanese media. Fortunately, Google Translate is fairly accurate in translating between Korean and Japanese since the grammar structure is nearly identical (try translating Japanese in English, it’s pretty bad).
What I learned from a cursory Wikipedia glance: Japan has not called up their “A” team. The roster from 2015 WWQ and the current roster is quite different. Looking at the caps you go from 100-200 to 0-60. Perhaps this explains why a team supposed to be that good lost to North Korea?
What I learned from Nikkan Sports: way more about the men’s team than the women’s team. The majority was quotes from a bunch of players, both men’s and women’s (including one where Yasuhito Endo comments about the NK game). The only team news regarding the women’s team was that Mai Kyokawa might start. There was an article where the new #8 wanted to score a debut goal and felt the burden of wearing that number (guess #8’s been important to them) and there was also a quote where Sasaki wanted his players to forget about North Korea and stand on the next pitch unafraid of making errors, but that’s about it. I did, though, find a predicted lineup for the men’s team: Nishikawa – Fujiharu Makino Morishige Endo – Yamaguchi Taniguchi Muto – Nagai Usami Kawamata. Remember that Usami and Nagai played against us in the 2012 Olympic bronze medal match vs. Kim YK (I believe Nishikawa was also the backup keeper to Gonda). They didn’t trouble us much, but they will certainly be out for revenge.
I’d expect a very similar lineup to the one Sasaki fielded vs. North Korea because I don’t have any resources to state otherwise.
Shim Seo Yeon is definitely injured and will be returning to Korea either today or tomorrow, and YDY is worried that she’ll be out for a very long time. Why? Her injury was severe – an ACL rupture (why is it that every time we play China someone’s either injured or at risk of injury?) Yoon Deok Yeo says that Cho So Yeon should take her spot in midfield.
Kim Jung Mi’s injury wasn’t as severe so she should be back as GK. I think the CB’s should stay the same especially now that Shim is injured. The fullbacks .. I’m not sure because YDY frequently rotates between Kim Hyeri Kim Sooyun and Lee Eunmi.
Now what I’m fairly certain of is that Lee Minah will return in attack (AM) – of all the players she was surely the one who got the most media attention not only for her eye catching skill but for her looks ( every good looking Korean athlete gets headlines like these). Turns out that she was initially called up because Yoo Young Ah was injured but YDY ended up giving her the central Ji So Yun role, and she did a great job there. She certainly contributed to the dominance we showed early on.
As for the other attackers we might see some shifting – Jung Seol Bin will probably start again as FW because she’s definitely the best forward we have atm, though perhaps Kang Yu Mi might be rotated for Lee Geummin or Jeon Gaeul.
2-2 Draw, but my predictions usually tend to be fairly off so … we’ll see if we can pull off a win tomorrow!