Japan’s history at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup follows a curious pattern having reached at least the quarter-finals three times, yet failing to qualify on a further three occasions. Asia’s performance at this level has been both outstanding and consistent, with the continent securing a top-four finish on each of the last six occasions, missing out only at the maiden tournament in 2002. Japan have more than played their part in the Asia’s success, reaching the quarter-finals in both 2002 and 2008. However, the highlight was a third-place finish in 2012 as the Young Nadeshiko turned in a series of thrilling performances on home soil.
Having surprisingly failed to qualify for Canada 2014, Japan bounced back in style to win the 2015 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship. Japan won all four matches en route to the final, highlighted by a 2-0 group-stage win over Australia and a 1-0 semi-final win over Korea Republic. Japan displayed a sometimes unheralded resolute side to their game in contesting 120 tense goalless minutes against Korea DPR in the final, before prevailing with a strong showing in the shoot-out to claim a record fourth title.
Japan’s renowned production line shows little sign of abating, with their ball-playing style once again in evidence among the current crop. The side includes several graduates of the Japan side which won the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014. The victorious coach from that campaign - Asako Takakura – now has the reins of the Young Nadeshiko, and she is well versed in the national football philosophy following a long illustrious career at senior international level.