Ladies’s World Cup heats up as former champions Norway and Japan sq. up

Japan’s players warm up trai during a training session ahead of the round of 16 Women’s World Cup soccer match between Japan and Norway in Wellington, New Zealand, on Aug. 4, 2023.

Japan’s gamers heat up trai throughout a coaching session forward of the spherical of 16 Ladies’s World Cup soccer match between Japan and Norway in Wellington, New Zealand, on Aug. 4, 2023.
| Picture Credit score: AP

Because the Ladies’s World Cup enters the enterprise stage when the final 16 kicks off on Saturday, the surprises and shocks within the group stage have thrown up some mouth-watering fixtures, beginning with the conflict of former champions Norway and Japan.

There’s a sense that the expanded 32-team format has improved the event after heavyweights Germany, Canada, Brazil and China have been knocked out whereas minnows like Morocco and Jamaica superior for the primary time.

Whereas Japan got here by their group unscathed, Norway misplaced to co-hosts New Zealand within the event opener whereas a public spat threatened to derail their marketing campaign earlier than they finally certified.

“You may see the extent of the World Cup is rising, so the ladies’s sport is rising quick,” Norway coach Hege Riise advised reporters.

“Everybody stated it was a straightforward group, we knew it wasn’t as a result of it was a decent group for us. Taking part in the house group within the first sport and never performing properly was a little bit bit devastating for us.

“However after that we bought higher step-by-step and once we wanted win we went on to play Philippines and gained 6-0. So confidence within the group is rising.”

Riise isn’t any stranger to Japan having performed membership soccer within the nation within the mid-Nineteen Nineties and he or she praised how far the Asian facet has come since.

“After I performed in Japan, I loved each minute of it. Implausible nation, nice gamers and the nationwide group again then was not so good as they’re now,” Riise stated.

“Now, they’ve developed fairly quick and turn out to be a robust group.”

Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda praised the teamwork that noticed them preserve three clear sheets in three wins to advance.

“Every participant is performing their function. They don’t seem to be solely performing to their very own capability, however they’re working as a unit. It is all concerning the collective,” he stated.

Switzerland superior with two goalless attracts after a 2-0 win within the opener and coach Inka Grings has confused on her group needing to be extra assertive in assault once they play Spain.

“We have now actually understood that message and we’ve helped to convey that with movies,” Grings stated.

“Spain has very sturdy gamers… We have a look at them as a compact and powerful group.”

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