Nadeshiko Japan sweeps past Nigeria in friendly

Kyodo

Women’s world champion Nadeshiko Japan eased to a 2-0 win over Nigeria on Sunday night in the first of two home friendlies against the Africans.

Yuki Ogimi opened the scoring late in the first half and Nahomi Kawasumi added the second to wrap up the victory in Nagasaki on the eve of her 28th birthday.

“We made a few careless mistakes here and there but it was a solid performance,” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki. “Nigeria have had a long journey and condition-wise are not at their best yet. They will be much more aggressive in the next match so we will have to increase our efforts.”

The second game will take place at Chiba’s Fukuda Denshi Arena on Thursday.

Japan controlled much of the first half and looked certain to take the lead in the 29th minute, only for Megumi Takase to have her shot cleared off the line by Osinachi Ohale.

But Chelsea striker Ogimi broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break, taking a through ball from Aya Miyama and skipping past Nigeria goalkeeper Ibubelye Whyte to slot the ball between two defenders into the net.

Takase missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 at the start of the second half and substitute Karina Maruyama was denied by Whyte from close range moments later.

It was only a matter of time before Japan doubled the lead and the second goal finally arrived on 53 minutes. Whyte could only parry a cross from Maruyama and the loose ball fell to Kawasumi, who kept her head to sweep home.

When Nigeria did make a rare foray into Japan territory, Ayumi Kaihori pulled off a smart save at the feet of Uchechi Lopez Sunday to help preserve Nadeshiko’s two-goal cushion.