Japan vs. New Zealand
The FIFA Women’s World Cup continues with opening play from Group B, this match sees rising Asian outfit Japan match up against New Zealand in Bochum, Germany.
Japan has qualified for every Woman’s World Cup since 1991, but what makes this one even more special is they qualified ahead of Asian powerhouse China. This is a huge feat considering they defeated both the Chinese and North Koreans in the process, with their only hiccup coming against eventual AFC Women’s Asian Cup champions Australia at the Semifinal stage. Lead by Coach Norio Sasaki, she has done a fantastic job since being appointed in 2008. She has guiding the team to the 2008 U-20 World Cup, 2008 Olympic tournament and 2008 Asian Cup. The key player for the Japanese are captain Homare Sawa, she is the countries most capped player with 156 appearances, top goal scorer with 75 goals and is the only one to player her club soccer outside of Japan in the WPS with Washington Freedom.
New Zealand is returning for their third Women’s World Cup, having previously qualified in 2007 and 1991. Having finished pointless in the previous two tournaments the Kiwis are looking to record their first positive result this time around, however their preparation for a tournament of this magnitude wasn’t the best as they beat a weak Papua New Guinea side by an 11-0 score line. Coach John Herdman has been within the New Zealand Women’s soccer system since 2003, and has helped build up this nations soccer culture to where it stands today. Key players for this side are Amber Hearn and captain Hayley Moorwood. Hearn leads the Football Ferns with 22 goals while Moorwood is the most experienced player in the side with 66 caps.
I think Japan are a team to watch out for, any team capable of keeping China out of the World Cup must be respected. Picking Japan to win the match has no value at all, so I’m going with the over.