Nadeshiko crowned East Asian queens
Japan won their third regional title
Mana Iwabuchi finished as top scorer with five goals
Hosts Korea Republic pipped China PR to silver
A little over five months after representing their continent at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup™, a trio Asian heavyweights - Japan, Korea Republic and China PR – did battle alongside Chinese Taipei in the women's tournament of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship.
The competition proved to be a triumph for Asako Takakura's Nadeshiko, who ran out convincing winners on the back of the three straight victories.
The Japanese opened brightly by putting nine unanswered goals past Chinese Taipei in the opener before downing a full-strength China 3-0. Then they went on to edge hosts Korea Republic by 1-0 to clinch their third title in this round-robin four-nation competition, equaling Korea DPR’s tournament record.
While the entire Japan team impressed, star forward Mana Iwabuchi was a standout, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals. The 26-year-old scored a brace against Chinese Taipei and followed that up with a dazzling hat-trick against China.
The title-winning campaign came as a massive boost for Japan, who have fixed their sights on breaking new ground at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament at Tokyo 2020 as hosts.
EAFF E-1 Football Championship: Most successful teams:
3 titles: Korea DPR (2013, 2015, 2017)
3 titles: Japan (2008, 2010, 2019)
1 title: Korea Republic (2005)
Hosts Korea Republic, under new boss Colin Bell, battled to a goalless draw against China in their opener before thumping Chinese Taipei 3-0 with midfielder Kang Chaerim twice on target. Despite losing to Japan in the concluding match, they finished as the competition’s runners-up.
It proved a disappointing campaign for Jia Xiuquan's China, whose lack of punch in front of goal cost them dearly against the hosts. They did register 20 efforts on goal against Chinese Taipei but, again, a lack of cutting edge left them relying on a spot-kick by captain Wu Hiayan to save their blushes.
Improvement will be needed if they are to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in February's Asian Olympic preliminaries.