FIFA Women’s World Cup record
Japan are one of the few nations to have appeared at every FIFA Women’s World Cup™. Aside from the first edition in 1991, the Nadeshiko’s early showings were typically competitive but without making a real impact. Victory over Brazil and a quarter-final appearance in 1995 proved to be a fleeting highlight. That all changed at Germany 2011 as Japan turned on the style in sweeping to the Final, before upsetting USA with a memorable penalty shoot-out victory to be crowned world champions. Four years later they also reached the tournament decider against USA, again with a succession of confident though narrow victories, only to crash to a 5-2 defeat in the Final.
The road to France
Japan retained their AFC Women’s Asian Cup crown – just their second continental title – in the tournament which doubled as qualifying for France 2019. Despite the victory in April 2018, it was a challenging ride for Japan whose modest win over Vietnam, and scoreless draw against Korea Republic had them on the back foot. However, a 1-1 draw against Australia booked second spot in the group and automatic passage to France. The Nadeshiko subsequently defeated China PR 3-1 in the semi-final, before a late 1-0 win over Australia in the decider.
Asako Takakura assumed the reins in 2016 with big shoes to fill, with predecessor Norio Sasaki leading Japan into a golden period which included two Women’s World Cup Finals - including that 2011 triumph - and a silver medal at the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Takakura boasts huge credibility both on and off the field, having been a key member of Japan’s midfield in their first two Women’s World Cup appearances. More recently, her international youth team coaching career was marked by high-quality football as Japan won the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, followed by an equally impressive showing in finishing third at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
10 – Not including the penalty shoot-out victory over USA in the 2011 Final, Japan have won 10 of 13 matches at the past two Women’s World Cups. In contrast they won just three of 16 matches at the previous five editions.