Japanese Women Claim Final Summer Olympics Spot by Winning Qualification Tournament on home soil in Kakamigahara
First Place: Japan 5, Azerbaijan 1
Japan will make its third consecutive appearance at the Olympic Games after winning the FIH Women’s Qualification Tournament in front of a sold out home crowd in Kakamigahara. The top-seeded Japanese routed second-seeded Azerbaijan, 5-1, in today’s final.
Akane Shibata had the game of her career today. She scored two sprawling goals to help Japan build a strong first half lead. Shibata had scored only once in the previous five games.
Japan took the lead eight minutes into the game when Rika Komazawa scored a clean short corner. Komazawa also scored twice in the win. Japan doubled the advantage midway through the half when Shibata got her stick on a short corner deflection that went up and over the shoulder of Viktoriya Shahbazova. Shibata followed up her first goal by making a big stretch on her second tally to open up a 3-0 lead.
The goals continued to roll. Tournament Top Scorer Kaori Fujio got in on the fun, storming down field and putting Japan ahead 4-0 with eight minutes left in the first half.
Azerbaijan chipped into the hefty lead to open the second half scoring. Khatira Aliyeva scored her fifth penalty corner goal of the tournament to give Azerbaijan a glimmer of hope. But it did little to slow the Japanese down as Komazawa put in her second marker to bring the final to a definitive 5-1.
After the game, there were tears on both sides of the pitch. The Japanese women have been under enormous pressure as the ninth-ranked team in the FIH World Ranking, host and tournament favorite and today they could finally enjoy accomplishing their London mission.
For Azerbaijan it is the second consecutive Olympic qualifier that they have finished in second place. They also narrowly missed Beijing after losing to Spain in 2008 at home in Baku. Azerbaijan has never played at the Olympic Games.
JAPAN TEAM ROSTER
|1||Sakiyo ASANO (GK)||24||50|
|8||Yukari YAMAMOTO (C)||30||205|
|18||Ryoko OIE (GK)||23||1|
Article 1st Published at http://FIH.ch