Sasaki wants Nadeshiko Japan to follow men into Olympics

Kyodo

Nadeshiko Japan coach Norio Sasaki is hoping his team can take inspiration from the under-23 men’s squad and qualify for this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Japan’s men stamped their tickets to Brazil when Riki Harakawa struck a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 victory over Iraq in an Asian Under-23 Championship semifinal in Doha on Tuesday.

“I hope we can feed off their energy and power and make sure we qualify,” Sasaki said on Wednesday at Narita airport after returning from China, where he watched the Chinese play South Korea in a warmup for the qualifiers.

Japan, the former world champion and London Olympic silver medal winner kicks off its final qualifying campaign in Osaka against Australia on Feb. 29.

Nadeshiko Japan will also face South Korea, China, Vietnam and North Korea.

“Qualifying out of Asia is an absolute must. It is the same for both the men and the women,” Sasaki said.