Sakura Japan gear up for Rio against Canada

Japan and Canada’s senior national women teams are set for an exhilarating experience

23 June 2016

Japan and Canada’s senior national women teams are set for an exhilarating experience as the two nations are down for a four-match Test series from June 23-28 in the Japanese cities of Osaka and Gifu.

The Test series will be a final tune-up in Japan’s preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics from August 5-21 in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. The Japanese, ranked 10th in the FIH rankings, are drawn alongside World No 2 Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, United States and India in the Olympics.

The Canadians, who are ranked 20th in the world and did not qualify for the Rio Olympics, arrived in Tokyo on June 18. The first Test match between the two teams is on Thursday (June 23) followed by matches on Saturday (June 25), Sunday (June 26) and the last on June 28.

Canada has included 16 players that competed at the 2016 Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand in April. However, 14 of these players were in the bronze-medal winning side that competed in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto last summer.

Prior to this test match series against the Canadians, the Japanese women’s team won bronze medal in a Four-Nation Invitational Tournament in Darwin in May that involved hosts Australia (World No 3), New Zealand (No 4) and 13-ranked India.

At the 2012 London Olympics Japan finished ninth out of 12 teams and will be looking towards improving their fortunes in Rio but the bigger picture will be when they host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Sakura Japan has named 18 players for the Rio Olympics – Twelve of whom competed in the 2015 World League Semi-finals. So in terms of experience, the Japanese are not short of it and have the pedigree to take on the top teams in the world.

Midfielder Miyuki Nakagawa, 29, will feature in her fourth Olympic Games having represented Japan in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012). Another senior member of the team is 31-year-old defender Mayumi Ono who also played at the Beijing Olympics and World League Semi-finals.

Goalkeeper Sachiyo Asano, defender Nagisa Hayashi, midfielder Akane Shibata and forward Aki Mitsuhashi were all members of the 2012 London Olympics. The team will be coached by Kenji Hasebe and Keiko Miura.

Today’s match saw Japan take the lead early on and defended a 3 goal lead against the Canadian eves.

For more information on Sakura Japan team and news go to their website:

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