Same old script for Japan
© AFP

Skilful, easy on the eye but toothless in front of goal. That description has haunted Japanese teams male and female at countless major tournaments and Hiroshi Ohashi's class of 2007 found it impossible to shake off the tag here in China.

Always a pleasure to watch, Japan nevertheless managed just one goal from open play in their three Group A fixtures, and that came in injury time against an Argentina side beaten on 11 occasions by Germany in their previous match. Aya Miyama's pair of point-saving free-kicks against England might have left the Nadeshiko's goals for column looking a little more respectable but as Ohashi and his players reflect on a third successive first-round exit, there was no debate required on the area in need of greatest improvement.

"I think there's no doubt about that: it's our ability to score goals," captain Hiromi Isozaki concluded. "I've participated in three World Cups and I think this is the best performance we've given, but it still wasn't enough. We do need to work some more on our defensive strategy because that still needs improvement. But the main thing for us to work on is our goalscoring."

Progress will also need to be made sooner rather than later because in just ten months' time, Japan will return to China to compete with the world's best once again in the Women's Olympic Football Tournament. Ohashi's pledge is to ensure that, be it a change in style, tactics or personnel, he will do everything within his power to prime his side for the test that awaits them in Beijing.

"The Olympics is our goal and I am going to rebuild this team for that challenge," he said. "If it means adding something or starting over again, I will do whatever it takes."