PARCHAL, PORTUGAL – Coach Norio Sasaki was given plenty to ponder as women’s world champion Japan crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Norway in its opening game of the Algarve Cup on Wednesday.
Sasaki fielded a new-look side in Japan’s first game since winning the silver medal at last year’s London Olympics, but two first-half goals from Caroline Hansen and Ada Hegerberg gave the Scandinavians a comfortable win.
“We conceded before we had a chance to get going,” said Sasaki. “There were a lot of minuses but that is down to me. As (world) champions, it is disappointing to lose, but we will take a look at ourselves and try and do better in the next game.”
Sasaki has not called up veterans such as former World Player of the Year Homare Sawa or regular captain Aya Miyama for the invitational tournament this time to give his younger players more experience.
He started with a team that included just three members of the squad that won the silver medal at last year’s London Olympics — Asuna Tanaka, Azusa Iwashimizu and Nahomi Kawasumi — but Japan fell behind after just eight minutes.