TOKYO: Japan’s football authority on Wednesday appointed the first female coach for the national women’s team who promptly pledged to restore the side to its former greatness.
The team, nicknamed “Nadeshiko” after a pink flower symbolizing Japanese femininity, became a national sensation in 2011 under former coach Norio Sasaki as it claimed the World Cup crown, beating the United States in a thrilling penalty shootout.
The team took silver at the 2012 London Olympics, losing to the Americans in the final. Sasaki also coached the team in its loss to the United States in last year’s World Cup final and he stepped down last month after it failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Now Asako Takakura, who has been coaching the national under-19 women’s team, was named by the Japan Football Association as head coach, becoming the first woman to lead the squad.
Takakura, 48, vowed to return Nadeshiko to glory.
“We want to pursue original football only Japanese can play,” Takakura, a former midfielder on the national team and a veteran of two World Cup tournaments, told reporters.
“We will aim to win all tournaments.”