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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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Patience the key to World Cup win: Japan coach


FRANKFURT (Kyodo) -- Japan coach Norio Sasaki hailed his Nadeshiko flowers after claiming their first Women's World Cup title on Sunday, saying patience was the key to beating the United States and ending a 24-match winless streak against the world's No.1 ranked team.

The Americans created a hatful of chances and led twice through Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, but Japan fought back through goals from Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa before prevailing in a dramatic 3-1 penalty shootout in Frankfurt.

"My girls really played their hearts out. You never know which way it is going to go in a penalty shootout but we stayed cool. I am really surprised," said Sasaki.

"Looking back at the game, there are some points of criticism. We were quite rigid at times and we didn't always play our game. Our defense was very focused and organized, very much like the game against Germany," he said, referring to the 1-0 quarterfinal win over the hosts.

"We didn't really get into the game 100 per cent the way we would have liked to. There simply wasn't enough space to play passes. The Americans had some great attacking play but our defensive line was very well organized."

"My players were patient, they wanted to win this game and I think it's because of that the Americans scored only two goals. Yes we had luck in the penalty shootout and I definitely got some help from my football god!"

Goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori played a major role in bringing Japan its first world title at any level, saving two penalties from Shannon Boxx and Tobin Heath in the shootout.

"We have some very good players on the team and this is why we have been able to win the final," said Kaihori.

"I received excellent support from the other players and I want to emphasize this is a team effort. In the penalty shootout I just had to believe in myself and I was very confident."

(Mainichi Japan) July 18, 2011

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