• Kyodo

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Japan’s triumphant women’s hockey players have vowed to bring home the gold medal from Athens after securing a berth for this summer’s Olympic Games for the first time at the qualifiers in New Zealand last week.

Japan coach Zenjiro Yasuda on Tuesday described guiding Japan to Athens as a “dream come true” after he and his team, which beat Spain 1-0 in the final of the Olympic qualifying competition in Auckland on Sunday, returned to Japan.

Tanned but tired after the nine-day tournament, the players were all smiles as they arrived at Nagoya airport with captain Keiko Miura promising the team will stop at nothing to capture the gold in Greece.

“Making it to Greece is absolutely fantastic and we have really high hopes. There is only one target for us and that is winning the gold medal,” Miura said.

Japan defeated archrival South Korea in the group stage of the 10-team tournament to advance to the semifinals where it beat Germany, before clinching the title with a 1-0 win over Spain.

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