Nadeshiko coach Asako Takakura advises Japan's younger players to avoid resting on laurels
PALEMBANG, INDONESIA â" A day after Japan won the Womenâs Under-20 World Cup for the first time, senior head coach Asako Takakura offered some words of wisdom to youngsters who wish to forge the future of Japanese soccer.
âIt is important to be tough in every single aspect in life, and have top-level technique,â Takakura said. âI want young players to have depth bo th on the pitch and as human beings.
âI wish to call up those players who strive for the best to my side as fast as possible.â
Takakura, who has been coaching Nadeshiko Japan since 2016, said she was impressed by the performance of the younger squad in the U-20 World Cup, where it defeated Spain 3-1 in the final.
The victory made Japan the first nation to win the title in all three FIFA Womenâs World Cup categories, having also won the senior and U-17 titles.
âI woke up last night to watch the match. Despite playing on a huge stage with consecutive matches against powerhouses, the side had sufficient mental strength and technique,â Takakura said. âIâm encouraged that there are many young players who may be a threat to some of those on the senior team.
âWatching them fight in this tournament gave me courage. Iâm motivated to make Japan the best in the world.â
Next year, Takakuraâs senior side will aim to follow the lead of th e U-20 team, when Japan competes in the Womenâs World Cup in 2019. Japan won the tournament in 2011.
The 50-year-old Takakura also stated she has higher standards for her squad, which beat North Korea in the Asian Games on Saturday.
âI feel like the younger players on the senior side are still incomplete,â she said. âThere are young players who get leg cramps or get nervous and canât touch the ball at the end of a tight game.â
Takakura said the players need to âclimb up two or three stepsâ and shouldnât be satisfied they have been doing well enough on the senior team.
âA real player is someone who can do something when everyone else canât move,â she said. âWhat probably counts at the end is how you behave in your everyday life, from what you eat to your dedication to training.â
Although she had some tough words for the younger players on the squad, she admits they are also the ones who provide the necessary characteristics to the team.
âThey have momentum and explosive power,â she said. âThe strengths of young players are different from those of the veterans. I want to combine their strengths in my team.â
The next test for Takakuraâs senior team is its Asian Games semifinal against South Korea on Tuesday. Japan is trying to win its first championship since 2010.
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