Opponent Watch: Japan’s Travel Roster For Friendlies in Sweden

Early on Tuesday, Japan released its roster for the two friendlies versus the United States and Sweden that will be held in Sweden in mid-June as part of the Volvo Winners Cup. Twenty-one players were called up, including Homare Sawa and Mana Iwabuchi who were both recovering from medical issues. One uncapped player was called up, Ami Otaki, who finished university at the end of last year and now plays for UEFA Women’s Champion League champions Olympique Lyonnais in France.

Japan and the United States WNT play each other on June 18th at 13:00 local time in Sweden.

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Homare Sawa returns to the squad after recovering from her benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which forced her to miss part of the Algarve Cup in March and the Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup in April. Under-20 forward Mana Iwabuchi is also back to match fitness after a foot injury last December.

The only uncapped player is 22 year-old Ami Otaki* who current plays for Olympique Lyonnais in France (Lyon bio page, Lyon article on her signing, UEFA.com profile). Otaki is tall, especially by Japan’s standards, coming in at 172 centimeters, which rounds up to 5 foot, 8 inches.

*The JFA lists her name as “Ohtaki,” but the preferred romanization for her surname, “大滝,” appears to be without the “h,” as in just “Otaki.” That is the spelling used on her Olympique Lyonnais jersey (see photo, here).

Otaki went the University route in Japan, where she played for Waseda University. She also played a year of soccer at York University in Toronto, Canada (probably as an exchange student). In Otaki’s last year at Waseda, she scored 45 goals in 30 matches (FIFA.com news item).

Otaki was a member of Japan’s U-19/U-20 pool in 2007 and 2008, but did not make the roster for qualifying or the 2008 Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

IT’S THE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP ROSTER, ALMOST: Nineteen of the twenty-one players were part of Japan’s 2011 World Champions team. The only players missing are  forward Karina Maruyama, who appears to not yet be 100-percent after the knee injury she picked up last September, and back-up goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago. The two added players are uncapped forward Ami Otaki and defender Saori Ariyoshi who just has 4 caps.

IT’S THE OLYMPIC ROSTER, ALMOST: To reduce the 21-player roster to a proper Olympic roster, three players will need to be cut. The most likely candidates are the uncapped Ami Otaki, Mana Iwabuchi, and one of the younger midfielders, either Asuna Tanaka or Megumi Kamionobe. The three players cut will probably end up still going to Great Britain, but as alternates.

Also, the jersey numbering scheme follows the rules for FIFA World Cups (goalkeepers must be #1, #12, and #21), rather than the Olympic rules (goalkeepers must #1, #18, and #22), so no definite insights can be read into the players’ numbers.

PLAYERS TRAINING WITH JAPAN’S WNT, BUT NOT TRAVELING TO SWEDEN: According to an English JFA write-up, six players will train in Japan before the WNT leaves for Sweden. Those six include goalkeeper Misaki Amano (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), midfielders Manami Nakano (Okayama Yunogo Belle) and Nanase Kiryu (NTV Beleza), plus forwards Karina Maruyama (Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki), Asano Nagasato (NTV Beleza), and Chinatsu Kira (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies). [Edit: found a proper a source]

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FUKUMOTO Miho (Okayama Yunogo Belle)
KAIHORI Ayumi (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

ARIYOSHI Saori (NTV Beleza)
KINGA Yukari (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
KUMAGAI Saki (FFC Frankfurt, Germany)
SAMESHIMA Aya (Montpellier, France)
YANO Kyoko (Urawa Reds Ladies)

KAMIONOBE Megumi (Albirex Niigata Ladies)
KAWASUMI Nahomi (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
MIYAMA Aya (Okyama Yunogo Belle)
SAKAGUCHI Mizuho (NTV Beleza)
SAWA Homare (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
TANAKA Asuna (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
UTSUGI Rumi (Montpellier, France)

ANDO Kozue (Duisburg)
IWABUCHI Mana (NTV Beleza)
NAGASATO Yuki (Turbine Potsdam, Germany)
OHNO Shinobu (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
OHTAKI Ami (Olympique Lyonnais, France)
TAKASE Megumi (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

TABLE: Japan’s Roster, Sorted By Position, Then By International Caps

 #  PLAYER            P.      D.O.B.   Age^  HT     WT   CAPS    G
12  FUKUMOTO Miho     GK  10/02/1983  28.8  5'5"  145.5    59  -62*
 1  KAIHORI Ayumi     GK  09/04/1986  25.9  5'7"  141.1    30  -23*
 2  KINGA Yukari      DF  05/02/1984  28.2  5'3"  116.8    78    5
16  YANO Kyoko        DF  06/03/1984  28.1  5'5"  121.3    71    1
 3  IWASHIMIZU Azusa  DF  10/14/1986  25.8  5'4"  119.0    77    8
 5  SAMESHIMA Aya     DF  06/16/1987  25.1  5'4"  116.8    43    2
15  KUMAGAI Saki      DF  10/17/1990  21.8  5"7"  130.1    39    0
 4  ARIYOSHI Saori    DF  11/01/1987  24.7  5'3"  114.6     4    0
10  SAWA Homare       MF  09/06/1978  33.9  5'5"  121.3   177   80
 8  MIYAMA Aya        MF  01/28/1985  27.5  5'2"  110.2   110   27
13  UTSUGI Rumi       MF  12/05/1988  23.6  5'6"  138.9    53    5
 6  SAKAGUCHI Mizuho  MF  10/15/1987  24.8  5'5"  127.9    51   16
 9  KAWASUMI Nahomi   MF  09/23/1985  26.8  5'2"  108.0    29    8
18  KAMIONOBE Megumi  MF  03/15/1986  26.4  5'2"  114.6    17    2
14  TANAKA Asuna      MF  04/23/1988  24.3  5'5"  114.6    12    3
 7  ANDO Kozue        FW  07/09/1982  30.0  5'5"  125.7   101   17
11  OHNO Shinobu      FW  01/23/1984  28.5  5'1"  110.2   103   37
17  NAGASATO Yuki     FW  07/15/1987  25.0  5'5"  132.3    81   35
20  TAKASE Megumi     FW  11/10/1990  21.7  5'5"  132.3    24    5
19  IWABUCHI Mana     FW  03/18/1993  19.4  5'1"  114.6    11    2
21  OHTAKI Ami        FW  07/28/1989  23.0  5'8"  130.1     0    0

*For goalkeepers, the JFA reports goals allowed as negative numbers.
^The age is calculated based on the opening day of the Olympics tournament, July 25th.

Roster Sources: JFA (Japanese version, with vital statistics); JFA (English version, just team info).

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