NICE, FRANCE – Nadeshiko Japan will face England in its last Women’s World Cup Group D match with a knockout-stage berth already guaranteed, but the 2011 champion is setting its sights beyond the round of 16, manager Asako Takakura said Sunday.
Currently second in the group with four points, Japan gained its place in the last 16 following the United States’ 3-0 defeat of Chile in Group F.
The results ensured Japan would finish no worse than among the four best third-place sides, who will enter the knockout stage along with the top two teams in each of the six groups.
“This is one more step toward our goal, but (we) are aiming for something even higher,” Takakura said Sunday through the Japan Football Association.
The top spot in the group — and a potentially smoother path through the knockout stage — will be on the line when seventh-ranked Nadeshiko Japan meets England at Stade de Nice on Wednesday.
One of the favorites to win the tournament, world No. 3 England sits atop the group with two wins from two matches.
The side, managed by former Manchester United and Everton stalwart Phil Neville, beat Japan 3-0 on its way to winning the SheBelieves Cup in the United States in March.
After a lackluster opening to their campaign, in which unfancied Argentina held them to a scoreless draw, Nadeshiko displayed a much-improved performance in their 2-1 win against Scotland on Friday.
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