Nadeshiko’s Sasaki Resigns

Nadeshiko’s Sasaki resignsNadeshiko Japan coach Norio Sasaki announced his resignation on Wednesday, after the women’s national team played its final game in Rio Olympics Asian qualifying.
“Since we couldn’t get the results, I must take responsibility,” the 57-year-old coach said during a postgame news conference. While Nadeshiko defeated North Korea 1-0 at Kincho Stadium in Osaka, the team had already had its Rio hopes dashed on Monday.

The women’s soccer team had made it to every Summer Games since the Athens Olympics in 2004, but a third-place finish in qualifying ended that run.

Sasaki’s likely replacement is women’s under-20 coach Asako Takakura.

“From the first match, we didn’t show our energy,” Sasaki said. “I’m largely to blame for that.”

In response to a question on what led to his decision, Sasaki said: “The national team coach has to do the job while taking responsibility. The coach has to take the consequences.”

After taking over Nadeshiko in December 2007, Sasaki brought the team to the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2011, he led Nadeshiko to victory in the Women’s World Cup in Germany, the first World Cup win for Japan. For that feat, Sasaki was named world women’s soccer coach of the year by FIFA.

At the 2012 London Olympics and the 2015 World Cup in Canada, Sasaki took Nadeshiko to the finals.

Over 125 games in charge of Nadeshiko, Sasaki’s record stands at 80 wins, 16 draws and 29 losses.

Regarding the failure in this tournament to make it to the Rio Olympics, Sasaki said, “We didn’t get the full three points from either of the first two matches. We made some miscalculations with our rhythm and my directions.”

He let out a smile, however, when talking about his time with Nadeshiko Japan.

“It was fun to experience soccer with these women,” Sasaki said. “Having the chance to be involved with Nadeshiko is something I will deeply treasure.”

Iwabuchi heads in winner

Japan, ranked fourth in the world, defeated sixth-ranked North Korea 1-0, the first time Nadeshiko recorded a shutout in a victory in this tournament. The team finished with 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses, finishing third. Australia and China, the two teams headed to the Rio Olympics from the Asian confederation, played to a 1-1 draw.

“We wanted to end with a win,” said Mana Iwabuchi, who scored the winning goal against North Korea. “It was good to score a goal.”

In the 80th minute, Iwabuchi ran down the right toward the goal to meet a cross from the left by Nadeshiko captain Aya Miyama. The header was Iwabuchi’s team-leading third goal of the tournament.