BEIJING — Striker Shinobu Ono has called on her teammates to make history when Japan takes on world champion Germany on Thursday in the women’s soccer bronze medal match at the Beijing Games.
Japan’s bid to break a winless jinx against the United States was left in tatters with a comprehensive 4-2 defeat to the defending Olympic champion in Monday’s semifinal.
But Norio Sasaki’s charges still have the chance to claim Japan’s first ever women’s soccer medal at Workers’ Stadium, and Ono says the team must not rest on its laurels having achieved its objective of making the last four.
“The Germans play a similar kind of game to the Americans so it’s not going to be easy, but we can’t simply think ‘Wow, didn’t we do well to make the last four?’ I want us to go home with a medal,” said Ono.
Japan is out to avenge its 2-0 loss to the Germans at last year’s Women’s World Cup in China but faces a tough assignment against a side still licking its wounds after a crushing 4-1 defeat by Brazil in the semis.
Germany had kept four clean sheets before collapsing against the South Americans.
“Germany lost 4-1 and they are not the type of team that concedes many goals so I think the shock is a bit different from how we felt (after losing to the Americans),” midfielder Homare Sawa said after Wednesday’s training session.
“This is our last match and all we have to focus on and think about now. Of course we want a medal, but whatever happens we want at the end of the match to feel like we did everything we could.”
Germany midfielder Renate Lingor insists, however, there are no lingering effects from the meltdown against Brazil and promised she and her teammates will be up for the fight.
“Whether it was 5-1 or 6-1, it won’t affect us,” said Lingor. “What we can do now is get the bronze. We need to come out of the tournament with a medal.”
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