Japan 2-1 Cameroon

Vancouver: Japan confirmed their place in the Round of 16 as the Nadeshiko made it two wins out of two in the defence of their FIFA Women’s World Cup crown on Friday (local time), with first-half goals from Aya Sameshima and Yukia Sugasawa seeing the Asian champions down Cameroon 2-1in their penultimate Group C fixture.

Norio Sasaki’s side round off their group stage campaign on Tuesday against Ecuador secure in the knowledge that they cannot finish any lower than second in the table after Switzerland – who the Japanese defeated 1-0 in their Canada 2015 opener – hammered the South Americans 10-1 in Friday’s other Group C fixture.

Switzerland and fellow FIFA Women’s World Cup debutants Cameroon are both on three points and will face off on Tuesday in Edmonton to determine who joins the Japanese in the Round of 16.

“We were solid at the back today. It was a tight and pretty intense game and we managed to get something out of it, even if we were a little bit hesitant at times in the second half,” said Japan coach Sasaki.

The 57-year-old, who was named FIFA World Coach of the Year and AFC Coach of the Year in 2011 after leading the Nadeshiko to glory at the last edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup admitted that Japan’s very first meeting with an African side in seven editions of the tournament was a stern test of his side’s championship credentials.

“The Cameroonians are quick on their feet and physically tough and they threw everything at us in the closing stages. Skill levels are increasing around the world and teams are all getting closer and closer to the top level. We know that there will come a day when there are no easy games at all.

Japan’s progress to the knockout stage seemed all but certain after the defending champions found themselves two goals to the good with just 17 minutes at the BC Place Stadium gone after Sameshima converted a cross from her INAC Kobe Leonessa team-mate Nahomi Kawasumi with just six minutes gone before Sugasawa headed home the second following a corner kick from two-time AFC Women’s Player of the Year Aya Miyama 11 minutes later.

Japan controlled proceedings but couldn’t add to their tally as Cameroon gradually grew in confidence as the game went on. Ajara Nchout, who plays her club football for Western New York Flash in the USA-based NSWL, reduced the deficit in the 90th minute before the 2014 CAF Women’s Championship runners-up came within inches of salvaging a draw when Sweden-based striker Gaëlle Enganamouit, scorer of a hat-trick in Cameroon’s 6-0 win over Ecuador in their tournament debut, headed just wide in the closing seconds.

Photo: FIFA/Getty Images 

 

Asian Football Confederation

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