US keen on Japanese double

Having already beaten them 1-0 in the group stages, the USA women will be keen to double their pleasure against Japan in their semi-final in Beijing on Monday. Slowly finding their rhythm after a shock opening-day loss to Norway, Pia Sundhage's Americans are suddenly looking like good bets to repeat their golden run of four years ago in Athens.

The game
Japan-USA, Monday 18 August, 21:00 (local time), Beijing

The stakes
One step away from the final, the Americans will he hoping to get the better of a Japanese side that are improving with every match. The Asians will be flying high after a comprehensive 2-0 win over the hosts in their quarter-final, while the Americans' extra-time victory over near neighbours and hot rivals Canada will have them ready to continue the form

The players
Natasha Kai has the hot hand for the Americans, having come on as a late substitute to steer the side past Canada with a peerless header in extra-time. Shannon Boxx's contributions in midfield have also been stellar. For the East Asians, wily veteran Homare Sawa could well prove the difference maker as Aya Miyama's contributions thus far can't be overlooked.

The past
The clash in Beijing will be the 23rd meeting between the two sides, with the USA holding sway in a big way. The North Americans have won 18 meetings with the Japanese still waiting for a first win against their rivals. It will be the third time the two sides have met at a Women's Olympic Football Tournament and the second time they face off here in Beijing, the US winning their Group G encounter with Carli Lloyd scoring the lone goal.

The words
"There were so many players who stepped in and played really hard in our game against Canada. We're getting some momentum now. We lost our first game, but we've played well ever since. Hopefully that momentum will carry on through to the semi-finals," USA midfielder Kate Markgraf.

"We've had some hard games so far, but were progressing nicely as a team. We are hoping we can continue to get better and get a result against the USA in Beijing. We will be ready," Japan coach Norio Sasaki.