HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asako Takakura, the Japanese national women’s team manager, has no intention of resting on her laurels after the side beat Australia to win their second successive Asian Cup crown on Friday and is already looking ahead to next year’s World Cup.
Kumi Yokoyama scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time in Jordan as Japan retained the title they won in 2014, when they also defeated the Australians in the final.
“When I was a player, I was focused on myself to become the best player, but now as a coach I’m trying to help the players to develop and also trying to develop women’s football in Japan,” said Takakura.
“In this tournament we played in the Japanese way and won the title, and that gives us confidence, but I can go further and I must go further, so let’s see what happens.”
Japan rode their luck to claim the title, with Elise Kellond-Knight seeing her 14th minute penalty saved by Ayaka Yamashita before substitute Yokoyama’s late winner ensured the trophy would be returning to Japan.
“We knew since the beginning that the match tonight would be the difficult one, and I believe it was a match worth watching and one of the best matches that Asia can show at this moment,” said Takakura.
“I’m proud to have such a great match against one of the best countries in Asia and in the world - Australia.”
Japan and Australia have both qualified for the Women’s World Cup finals in France next year, where they will be joined by China, Thailand and South Korea.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford