• Kyodo

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Japan shut out world No. 6 South Korea 4-0 in the first-round finale at the Athens Olympic qualifying tournament in women’s field hockey on Wednesday to secure a berth in the Olympics for the first time in history.

News photoJapan’s Naoko Saito (right) competes with South Korea’s Kim Jung A during their Olympic qualifying match. Japan secured a berth in Athens with a 4-0 victory.

Japan, ranked 11th in the world, finished atop Group B with a 3-1 record behind nine points along with Spain and advanced to the semifinal of the 10-nation competition, guaranteeing itself a place in the top five which automatically earns a ticket to Athens.

“This is a dream come true and I can’t be happier,” said Japan coach Zenjiro Yasuda after the victory against the 1988 Seoul Olympic silver medalists thanks to two goals by Sakae Morimoto.

“We had nothing to lose, so the players were able to remain calm and played perfectly according to strategy,” he said.

The team featuring captain Keiko Miura became Japan’s fifth ball-game squad to qualify for this summer’s Olympics following softball, baseball, women’s basketball and men’s soccer.

The Japanese men’s hockey team took part in five Olympics, including the 1932 Los Angeles Games in which it won silver, but it will be the first time the Japanese women’s team makes an Olympic appearance since the women’s discipline became an official Olympic sport in 1980.

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