JAKARTA - Nadeshiko Japan’s players provided a ray of light for their country on an otherwise gloomy, goldless Tuesday at the Asian Games, the women’s soccer team winning through to the final with a victory over South Korea.
The 2-1 triumph for Asako Takakura’s team booked a place in the final where it will meet China, a 1-0 semifinal winner over Taiwan.
With no gold, Japan’s medal tally on Tuesday was only lifted by two silver and four bronze.
Yuika Sugasawa scored in the opening minutes to give Japan the lead, but a 68th-minute equalizer by Lee Min-a buoyed South Korea’s hopes before an own goal from the head of Lim Seon-joo put Japan through.
“I imagined today’s match would be a tough one even before it began,” said Japan head coach Takakura. “We were able to get the first goal early in the game, but I got the impression we were pushed back by Korea’s offense.
“We tried to adjust but we struggled until the end and were on the back foot most of the time,” she said.
Late on Tuesday, Japan’s men’s volleyball team crashed out at the quarterfinal stage with a 3-2 loss to Qatar. It is only the second time in Asian Games history that the team, games champions as recently as 2010, did not reach the semifinals.
Japan’s synchronized swimming duets team of Yukiko Inui and Megumu Yoshida won silver, splitting a pair of twin sisters, gold medalists Jiang Wenwen and Tingting from China and bronze medalists Yekaterina and Alexandra Nemich from Kazakhstan.
The gold is the Chinese sisters’ record sixth at the Asian Games, while for perennial bridesmaid Inui it is her seventh silver.
In more synchronized success, Ken Terauchi and Sho Sakai won Japan’s first diving medal of the games in Indonesia, taking bronze in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard.
After looking like the Japanese divers had wrapped up silver, the South Korean pair of Kim Yeong-nam and Woo Ha-ram came through to snatch it away by a mere 4.17 points.
Fresh off a gold in team eventing, Japan added silver in the team jumping event. The foursome of Taizo Sugitani, Toshiki Masui, Shota Ogomori and Daisuke Fukushima finished with 12.74 points, 1.84 behind gold medalists Saudi Arabia.
“I felt some pressure as our first rider, but I gutted it out to make it a little easier for the rest of the team,” said the 42-year-old Sugitani. “We produced some extremely good teamwork.”
The youngster on a team with three men in their 40s, 19-year-old Shota Ogomori said he followed his teammate’s lead.
“I was able to ride in a way that put pressure on the other teams,” Ogomori said. “Watching Taizo’s ride gave me good ideas.”
Japan’s men’s and women’s track cycling team pursuit squads won bronze, both lapping their opponents in their medal races. The bronze is the first medal of any type for a Japanese woman in the sport in 16 years.
Japan won just one medal in track and field on Tuesday, a bronze by Shunya Takayama in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. The 23-year-old Asian Games debutant crossed the line in 13.48 seconds, 0.14 behind the gold medalist from China, Xie Wenjun.
The other notable track and field result for Japan, a fourth, went to Marina Saito in the women’s javelin. She missed bronze by just 28 centimeters with her final throw of 56.46 meters.
In a do-or-die match, the Japanese men’s hockey team scratched out a 3-2 win over South Korea to reach the semifinals.
Kazuma Murata was the hero, scoring a fourth-quarter goal to keep Japan’s medal hopes alive.
With two days of the sailing regatta remaining, Japan looks certain to have at least four medal prospects, despite the polluted water in Jakarta bay causing a wave of sickness to sweep through the team.
In the men’s 470, Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi hold the a lead, as do their men’s 49er compatriots Shingen Furuya and Shinji Hachiyama.
Japanese head the fleet in two of the four women’s classes, Manami Doi is dominating the laser radial and Ai Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka have a commanding lead in the 470 event.