Soccer

Mana Iwabuchi, Nahomi Kawasumi among Nadeshiko Japan's 23 call-ups for Tournament of Nations

Kyodo

The Japan Football Association on Friday named a 23-woman squad for the upcoming Tournament of Nations, with veteran forward Nahomi Kawasumi and Asian Cup MVP Mana Iwabuchi among the selections.

In April, Iwabuchi spearheaded Nadeshiko Japan’s successful defense of the Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan. Kawasumi, a key member of the 2011 World Cup-winning side, made her first national team start in over two years at the Asian Cup.

They will be joined at the Tournament of Nations in the United States, which begins on July 26, by defender Aimi Kunitake, who earned her first call-up to the national team. Midfielder Mizuho Sakaguchi, who has 125 Nadeshiko caps, will not take part after undergoing knee surgery earlier this year.

Japan, sixth in the FIFA rankings, will play the top-ranked United States in their opening game on July 26, before facing No. 7 Brazil three days later. Asako Takakura’s side will faceon No. 8 Australia on Aug. 2.

Nadeshiko finished last year’s inaugural tournament against the same three teams without a win.

“Last year, we failed to play our games and came back empty-handed, so we would like to show the world just how much we have improved since,” Takakura said in a statement released by the JFA.

“This is a restart ahead of next year’s World Cup and we will continue to look for new talent and build on what we have worked on thus far.”

The winner of the Tournament of Nations will be based on total points, with goal difference as the first tie-breaker.