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Japan WC winners target Olympic gold

Tokyo, Jul 19 (Agencies)
Published on 19 Jul. 2011 11:00 PM IST
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Japan’s victorious Women’s World Cup squad received a rapturous reception when they returned home today. Captain Homare Sawa said she now wants gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
“It’s human nature to want more,” Sawa told a press conference in Tokyo shortly after hundreds of fans and media gave the Japanese players a heroes welcome at Narita airport. “With this gold medal in front of me, I really feel that my next goal is to grab the Olympic gold medal as we have yet to get any medal at the Olympics,” she was quoted by AFP.
Japan beat USA 3-1 on penalties in a dramatic final on Sunday in Frankfurt. They were placed fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“The Asian Olympic qualifying round will start this year with other tournaments and matches coming up soon,” said Sawa, who won the Golden Boot award after netting five goals at Germany 2011 and was named the most valuable player. “I want to condition myself for the battles ahead.”
Six nations in Asia - Australia, China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Thailand - will battle for the two Asian spots at the London olympics.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki said she hoped the World Cup triumph would inspire her team to go for gold at the Olympics.
“Our original plan was to win the World Cup in four years’ time, but fortunately we’ve done it before then,” she was quoted by the Japan Times. “Next we’ve got the qualifiers for the London Olympics, and we’ve got to start again and do our best there, too. We’ve won the World Cup, but we can’t stop here.” Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Japan’s Women’s World Cup victory the “greatest gift” to the nation following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Asia’s FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein heaped praise on the ‘Nadeshiko’ for defying the odds to win the tournament.
“I am very proud as the FIFA VP from Asia to witness history in the making as Japan takes the Women World Cup tonight,” Prince Ali of Jordan was quoted by
“Congratulations to Japan, the Japan FA and to the people of Japan. This is a victory for all of Asia that we must be proud of.”

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