Women's World Cup: Japan coach Norio Sasaki says Japan will do better against USA
Japan coach Norio Sasaki admitted his side struggled to control England before a dramatic own-goal sealed a 2-1 win at the Women`s World Cup and set up a title rematch with the United States.
Defender Laura Bassett turned the ball into her own net deep into injury time to send a heartbroken England home from their first semi-final and holders Japan through to their second straight final in Vancouver next Sunday.
The opening two goals came from penalties from Japan captain Aya Miyama (33) and Fara Williams (40) as a gritty English side matched the reigning champions.
Japan`s `Nadeshiko` had been unable to dictate play the way they had in their five previous games, which were also won by a one-goal margin.
"Today we had a tough game. I thought we could play the way we wanted to and we could stick to our plan, but they were playing in a very simple manner and they were also powerful," said Sasaki.
"England were more mobile than I was expecting, and we struggled to cause them problems.
"We didn`t play as well as I`d hoped, but when you qualify, it means you`ve achieved your objective."
The Japan coach saw the own-goal more as the result of his players pressing for the winner than a mistake from the devastated Bassett.
"As for the own goal, I feel sorry for the player, but Yuki Ogimi was right behind her ready to pounce, so I don`t think it would have made a difference either way," he explained.
"We still created the goalscoring opportunity ourselves -- for me, it`s more a goal made by Nahomi Kawasumi and Ogimi than an own goal."Sasaki`s players had been motivated to do well for teammate Kozue Ando, who broke her ankle in the opening game of the tournament and returned to Japan for surgery.
"In the dressing room, Kozue Ando told the players over the phone that she would be at the final in Vancouver to support them," the coach said.
"I think that provided them with the motivation to qualify."
Both penalties awarded were not clear ones and Sasaki said he told his players at half-time it was like if the score was 0-0.
The former FIFA world coach of the year also told his players to take more risks.
"The style England played, they were taking initiatives. I told my players not to be afraid of making mistakes otherwise we wouldn`t be ablt to take chances," he said.
"The defenders were in a bit of a tough situation but the biggest threat was set pieces we gave them.
"In the end we were able to obtain such a dramatic goal."
Sunday`s championship match will be a third clash for a major title between Japan and the United States.
In the 2011 final in Frankfurt, Japan won on penalities, but the Americans went on to take Olympic gold in 2012 by beating Japan in the final.
"A team that is very powerful and which has a simple tactic. We may not be as good playing against them," reflected Sasaki.
"In the final against the USA I think we can go in with a fresh prespective.
"It`s a final and there is nothing beyond that. We must not be afraid to make mistakes. This is what I will tell the players.
"In 2011 both teams had a wonderful game in the final and for women`s football in the world we hope to have another one like that.
"But Japan needs to build up our power and that is what I take away from this game."