• Kyodo


Women’s soccer world champion Japan plans to play France in a September friendly in a rematch of last summer’s Olympic semifinal, coach Norio Sasaki said Monday.

Nadeshiko edged France 2-1 in the last four at London to secure Japan’s first medal in women’s soccer.

“They have some players with size but are graceful at the same time,” Sasaki said during a news conference at the National Press Club. “They are a great example for us.”

Earlier this month Japan finished fifth at the Algarve Cup in Portugal — the women’s invitational tourney comprising the world’s best teams — for which Sasaki picked a young and inexperienced squad.

The manager, however, said Japan must do a better job of scouting and developing talent if it wants to retain its status as among the best in the women’s game.

“It was obvious the other countries were uncovering more talented players than we were,” Sasaki said. “We’ve been playing a 4-4-2 this whole time, but our opponents have really been studying us and we’re going to have to add some variety to our style.”

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