BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – Mana Iwabuchi, Mina Tanaka and Mayu Ikejiri netted a pair of goals each as Nadeshiko Japan started the EAFF E-1 Women’s Football Championship final round with a 9-0 rout of Taiwan on Wednesday.
World No. 10 Japan dominated every facet of the game at Busan Asiad Main Stadium, with more than 70 percent of possession against a side 30 places lower in the FIFA rankings.
Asako Takakura’s squad fired off 46 shots, 18 of them on target, while preventing Taiwan, managed by former Japan international Kazuo Echigo, from making a single attempt on goal.
“We missed out on the title at the (previous) tournament two years ago, so we’re focused on winning it this time,” Takakura said.
“I’m proud of the players for scoring nine goals, which was the result of the players coming up with their own ideas.”
Donning the captain’s armband, veteran forward Iwabuchi scored in the seventh minute to open the floodgates for the reigning Asian champions.
Tanaka added a second two minutes later and eventually bagged her brace when she beat Taiwan keeper Tsai Ming-jung from the penalty spot in the 38th minute.
Rikako Kobayashi scored in 16th minute, while Arisa Matsubara struck just before the break to send Nadeshiko into halftime with a 5-0 lead.
Having come on to start the second half, 22-year-old forward Ikejiri was felled inside the area and converted the subsequent penalty in the 54th minute.
Defender Kiko Seike and Iwabuchi added second-half goals, while Ikejiri found the net one last time with a well-taken strike inside the area in the 92nd minute.
Japan will play China on Saturday before meeting host South Korea to complete the final round of the East Asian Football Federation tournament on Dec. 17.
Japan is aiming for a third EAFF title in the absence of three-time winners and reigning champions North Korea, who withdrew from this year’s tournament after automatically qualifying for the final round.