New-look Japan ease through
© Foto-net

Japan, who have impressed many at Chile 2008, rested many of their first-choice players for their final group game against already-eliminated Congo DR. The Asians, however, still triumphed 3-1, leaving the Africans without a single point to show for their efforts at the tournament.

Japan went in front on five minutes when a mistake from Mamie Buazo in the Congo DR goal allowed Mari Kawamura a shot on goal, and Nanu Mafuala's attempted clearance ended up in her own net. Yet the Africans equalised immediately, when Oliva Amani shot from fully 35 yards, and the ball sailed over Erina Yamane in the Japanese goal. It was Congo DR's first goal at Chile 2008.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as Japan retook the lead only four minutes later. This time it was Konomi Ataeyama, set free on the counter, who shot past Buazo for Japan's second. A few minutes later Ataeyama could have added a third, but her shot was off-target.

Japan controlled the match from that point, and Congo DR's morale was not helped by an injury to their goalkeeper Buazo on 52 minutes. She was replaced by Fideline Ngoy, who did manage a fine save from Hakari Nakade on 59 minutes.

The Asians put the seal on their victory on 78 minutes, when Michi Goto's shot was deflected into the path of Rumi Utsugi, who finished easily. A perfect record in the group stage for Japan, who will meet fellow Asians Korea DPR in the quarter-finals.