TOKYO (majirox news) — The Japanese women’s national soccer team celebrated an epic 1-0 extra time victory over host Germany in the World Cup Women’s Soccer 2011 at Wolfsburg on July 9.
Karina Maruyama scored in the second half of extra time to take Japan into the semifinals for the first time, having never passed through the group stages in its past three World Cups.
“This is unbelievable,” Homare Sawa, the team captain whose pass to Maruyama set up the goal, said to the media after the match. “Everyone did the best for the team throughout the match.”
Sawa, a 32-year-old-veteran, has had an outstanding career since she began playing soccer in the national team at the age of 15. This is her fifth World Cup, and the team’s best. On July 1, Sawa scored a hat-trick against Mexico to lead the team to the knockout rounds.
The three goals lifted her career tally to 78, three more than the men’s national record Kunishige Kamamoto set in 1977. Kamamoto’s response reflected changing times. “I knew my record would be broken someday, but I never expected a girl to make it happen,” he said.
“I am so excited with ‘Nadeshiko Japan,’” Daiki Takahashi, a young soccer fan said, “because I think it would take decades for the men’s team to advance to semi-final, and I cannot even think of them becoming a World Cup champion in my lifetime. This is a great chance for Japan.” Nadeshiko is the team’s nickname, deriving from the term used to describe the traditional beauty and dignity of Japanese women.
The Japanese women’s national soccer team is having its best shot at the World Cup title for the first time since its debut game against Chinese Taipei in 1981. “We will do our best to win the championship and change the history of Japanese women’s soccer,” Sawa said.
“Nadeshiko Japan” will compete in the semifinal on July 13, taking on the winner of the quarterfinal between Sweden and Australia.