AFC Asian Cup 2022: Defending Champions Japan Face Korea In Battle Of Heavyweights To Decide Group Toppers
The two teams played out a goalless draw in the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup, but their most recent meeting was in the 2019 EAFF Championship, with Japan coming out 1-0 victors.
Pune: A thriller is on the cards as defending champions Japan and another continental heavyweights Korea face off in their final group C match of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup here on Thursday. Both teams have secured six points after two wins each against Vietnam and Myanmar, with Japan ahead on goal difference and only needing to avoid defeat at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex to top the group. Korea, however, would be looking to prevail over the two-time defending champions with head coach Colin Bell having worked on the mistakes identified in the win against Myanmar on Monday.
“We made a few unforced errors when going forward. When trying to play as expansive as possible that transition will have to be excellent, the organisation when we’re attacking has to be very good. We’ve got a couple of situations where our organisations were a little bit off,” he said.
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“For the game against Japan, they’ve got much more quality and if we give them these kinds of invitations, they will take them. So our transition into defence has to be much faster. When we’re attacking, we need to make sure we do not lose our defensive structure.”
The two teams played out a goalless draw in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, but their most recent meeting was in the 2019 EAFF Championship, with Japan coming out 1-0 victors.
“We know Japan are a very strong team, technically really good. World class players with two players I know very well in the German Bundesliga, (Saki) Kumagai and (Mana) Iwabuchi,” Bell said.
“It’s a big test for us, but we need to be competing against the best to see how far we’ve come and what we need to do. If we manage that, then it puts us in a good position in the quarter-finals because we’ve won the group. It’s a game that we need to focus on. It’s going to be an exciting match.”
Korea, however, will be left guessing as to who might feature in Japan’s starting XI with head coach Futoshi Ikeda utilising a total of 21 players in the last two matches. The depth of talent in the defending champions’ squad is unquestionable, but Ikeda wants to tune his players a little bit more.
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