Sawa set for fifth tournament
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Skipper Homare Sawa will spearhead Asian Games gold medallists Japan at the FIFA Women's World Cup starting in Germany later this month, the Japan Football Association said today. 

It will be a fifth straight World Cup appearance for the 32-year-old midfielder, who has scored 75 goals in 166 games for the national team to be the country's best scorer. "I want to make it the result of my football career. I really want to win a medal," said Sawa.

She is joined by Europe-based players Duisburg forward Kozue Ando, Potsdam forward Yuki Nagasato and Montpellier midfielder Rumi Utsugi in the 21-woman team. They also include veteran forward Shinobu Ono and up-and-coming forward Mana Iwabuchi, 18.

Sixteen teams are divided into four preliminary groups in Germany and the top two teams from each group will reach the quarter-finals. Japan play New Zealand on 27 June, Mexico on 1 July and England on 5 July in Group B. They will play a warm-up game against Korea Republic on 18 June before leaving for Germany three days later.

Japan coach Norio Sasaki said: "Our goal is to reach the knock-out round. Hopefully, we can break through the semi-final barrier that we failed to do in the Beijing Olympics, and then reach the summit."



Goalkeepers: Nozomi Yamago (Urawa Reds Ladies), Miho Fukumoto (Okayama Yunogo Belle), Ayumi Kaihori (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

Defenders: Yukari Kinga (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kyoko Yano (Urawa Reds Ladies), Megumi Kamionobe (Albirex Niigata Ladies), Azusa Iwashimizu (NTV Beleza), Aya Sameshima (transferring), Asuna Tanaka (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Saki Kumagai (Urawa Reds Ladies)

Midfielders: Homare Sawa (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Aya Miyama (Okayama Yunogo Belle), Nahomi Kawasumi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Mizuho Sakaguchi (Albirex Niigata Ladies), Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier HSC)

Forwards: Kozue Ando (FCR 2001 Duisburg), Karina Maruyama (JEF United Ichihara Chiba), Shinobu Ono (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Yuki Nagasato (FFC Turbine Potsdam), Megumi Takase (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Mana Iwabuchi (NTV Beleza)