Futoshi Ikeda, the coach of the Japanese women’s national football team, has announced the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Japan squad and we take a look at who’ve been included in the squad and some notable absentees.
Also Read : England Women’s World Cup squad preview.
Japan is the only Asian team to have won the tournament and is a major contender at the Women’s World Cup, having qualified for every tournament since 1991. They’ve won the tournament in 2011 and just fell short and became runners up in 2015.
The former Asian World Cup champions would like to return to relevance after their early exit in 2019 and having not won the trophy since 2011. It’s going to be a big task for the coach, Futoshi Ikeda to help the country win their second ever Women’s World Cup with teams like England, Germany Brazil eyeing for a comeback and USA desiring to win their Third Consecutive World Cup.
Japan has a good team to challenge for the title if they can play to their potential. They’ve a mixture of young talented and old experienced players. They’ve been drawn in group C where they’re meant to play against Costa Rica, Spain and Zambia.
The ones who’ve made the cut
They’re led by Bayern Munich star, Saki Kumagai. She has 130 caps to her name for Japan and is going to offer a lot of experience in the back line and leadership in the team. The Bayern defender is the only player in the squad who was part of the World Cup winning team in 2011.
Moeka Minami, the A.S. Roma player has also made the cut. She has only one World Cup appearance and 12 in total, but is expected to play in this World Cup. Along with Moeka, Shlori Miyake has also made the squad. The 27-year-old defender is going to make her debut at this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The three Urwa Reds players, Hana Takahashi, Rion Ishikawa and Kiko Seike has also been included in the squad but would most probably play as back-ups.
For the midfield position the coach has picked Manchester City player, Yui Hasegawa. Probably one of the most anticipated and obvious picks. She has chipped in with 14 goals in her 63 appearances for her country as a midfielder. Another WSL club player, Fuka Nagano has been included in the club. She plays for Liverpool in the midfield position only. She is also set to make her World Cup debut in Australia and New Zealand. Hikaru Naomoto and Honoka Hayashi are the other names in the midfield.
Ayaka Yamashita has also been picked as their first choice goalie. She has 55 caps to her name and is expected to perform well in this World Cup as she has been doing her club INAC Kobe. Mina Tabaka, another INAC Kobe player, is one of their main forward players. She has been immense for her club team and would like to carry the same form forward to the World Cup for her country. She has bagged 23 goals in 62 appearances for Japan and would like to add some more goals to that tally in this summer.
The three-time World Cup striker fails to make the cut
Mana Iwabuchi, who has participated in the last three World Cups has been ruled out by the coach. The 30-year-old forward was a part of the World Cup winning squad in 2011, Germany at the age of 16. She has been instrumental in the last two World Cup tournaments for her country but couldn’t make the cut this time due to her drop in form.
In January she was loaned out to Spurs from their North London rivals, Arsenal. She hasn’t really been that affective for Tottenham and is a free agent now. She has scored 37 goals in 90 caps for her country and leaving her out was one of the toughest decisions the coach had to make for the sake of the betterment of the team. But she has accepted the reality in quite humble and respectful fashion.
FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Japan squad
- Ayaka Yamashita
- Chika Hirao
- Momoko Tanaka
- Saki Kumagai
- Shiori Miyake
- Risa Shimizu
- Kiko Seike
- Miyabi Moriya
- Moeka Minami
- Hana Takahashi
- Rion Ishikawa
- Hikaru Naomoto
- Yui Hasegawa
- Hina Sugita
- Honoka Hayashi
- Fuka Nagano
- Hinata Miyazawa
- Jun Endo
- Aoba Fujino
- Mina Tanaka
- Remina Chiba
- Riko Ueki
- Maika Hamano