Soccer

Nadeshiko stalwarts Miyama, Iwabuchi to miss Sweden friendly

Kyodo

Nadeshiko Japan coach Asako Takakura overlooked regular captain Aya Miyama for selection as she named her squad on Wednesday for an upcoming friendly away to Sweden.

Miyama, the three-time Asian Player of the Year, missed Japan’s first two matches under Takakura against world champion the United States last month, ruling herself out of that trip due to fitness issues.

Takakura has also been unable to call on striker Mana Iwabuchi for the game against the Swedes at Guldfageln Arena in Kalmar on July 21, owing to club commitments with Bayern Munich.

“(Miyama) is still not right condition-wise,” Takakura told a press conference, saying she would hold discussions with the players before deciding on a captain for the Sweden game.

“We cannot sit here and do nothing while the other teams are gearing up for the Olympics. We will do everything we can to beat Sweden right before their Olympic campaign starts.”

Frankfurt striker Yuki Nagasato captained the side which pulled out a gutsy 3-3 stoppage-time draw against the U.S. in Takakura’s debut on June 2.

Rumi Utsugi of Seattle Reign took the armband for the second friendly against the Americans three days later. The game was abandoned in the second half because of a thunderstorm with the United States leading 2-0.

Former world champion and London Olympic silver medalist Japan failed to qualify for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Games.

Sweden has been drawn in the first round in Rio against hosts Brazil, China and South Africa.

Japan has played Sweden on 12 previous occasions, winning five games against four losses and three draws.

Japan will also play Swedish club side Kristianstad DFF in a practice match on July 24.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Erina Yamane (JEF United Chiba Ladies), Ayaka Yamashita (NTV Beleza), Chika Hirao (Urawa Reds Ladies)

Defenders: Saori Ariyoshi (NTV Beleza), Yuri Kawamura (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais), Mayu Sasaki (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), Hikari Takagi (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara), Tomoko Muramatsu (NTV Beleza)

Midfielders: Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), Rumi Utsugi (Seattle Rein), Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Shino Kunisawa (Nagano Parceiro Ladies), Sonoko Chiba (AS Harima Albion), Mai Kyokawa (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Yu Nakasato (NTV Beleza), Rika Masuya (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

Forwards: Yuki Nagasato (1.FFC Frankfurt), Saori Arimachi (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), Kumi Yokoyama (Nagano Parceiro Ladies), Mina Tanaka (NTV Beleza)