Pride and pain for dethroned queens

Japan may have lost their title as FIFA Women’s World Cup™ champions but they maintained their pride, displaying trademark characteristics of resilience and mental fortitude in the Canada 2015 decider. Japan made an unthinkably bad start in Vancouver falling four goals behind inside 16 minutes, a period which included a 13-minute Carli Lloyd treble, before eventually suffering a 5-2 defeat.

It was the kind of opening that would break most teams. But Japan’s staying power is renowned and has been a factor in the team reaching a second successive Women’s World Cup Final following six successive one-goal wins. That spirit first became apparent four years ago at Germany 2011, where Japan twice came from behind before outlasting USA in the Final on penalties for their maiden crown.

This time there was to be no way back from the early setback but that didn’t stop Japan pressing USA all the way, scoring twice and even marginally coming out on top in the possession stakes. “We didn’t have the quality to handle what USA threw at us in the final,” goalscorer Yuki Ogimi told “We have to admit that we didn’t have it today. In that sense USA were better than us.

“USA used a lot of moves on set-plays and we didn’t handle that well at the start of the match and we were soon two goals down. We conceded a third and fourth very quickly. But we soon found our rhythm and we pulled back two goals, but in the end we didn’t have enough ability to come all the way back into the match.”

We are proud of being runners-up so for that the team is happy.

Ogimi was in a contemplative mood post-match having scored a superb striker’s goal after turning her marker Julie Johnston and coolly slotting home to end Hope Solo’s lengthy unbeaten run in the tournament. However, asked about emotions in the dressing room, Ogimi painted a positive picture. “We are proud of being runners-up so for that the team is happy,” she said. “This is the last time we have together as a team together at this tournament and we now enjoying these last moments together.

“I felt I could accomplish something here in the final and show my personal development since four years ago. I’m happy to have accomplished something (scoring) but it didn’t contribute to the winning of the team so in that sense I have regrets.”

Focus only on winning Despite failing to defeat USA in their past four outings Ogimi said the Nadeshiko were focused only on the notion of victory. “We didn’t have the image in our mind that we would lose, only that we would win the match,” she said. “But we lacked something today and the result didn’t come for us. I feel we achieved development in this tournament, and we found extra strength to advance throughout the tournament. The atmosphere before the match in our camp was the same as years ago.”

Japan coach Norio Sasaki lamented the lack of early focus which cost his side two goals from set-pieces, but still lavished praise on his players for reaching the Final. “I feel that the team could have been a bit more focused, they fought hard to the very end,” Sasaki said. “As the champions of the previous World Cup, I'm sure our team felt many pressures during the last four years, but even under such circumstances they were able to come this far. And the fact that we have made it to the Final was a success.”