Japan Seek to Add Olympic Gold to Women's W.Cup Title; Semi-finals Preview
August 6, 2012
Japan fans are hoping the women's team can add an Olympics gold to their World Cup title (Getty)
(WFI) The finalists for Olympic women’s football will be determined Monday night as the reigning World Cup champions Japan meet France and defending Olympic champions USA play Canada in the semifinals.
France and Japan play the early game at Wembley Stadium. France edged Sweden 2-1 in Glasgow and Japan beat Brazil 2-0 at Cardiff in Friday's quarterfinals.
“It was our first time playing against Brazil at a major tournament and the players could have been fearful of them,” said Japanese coach Norio Sasaki.
“But we knew their stamina would decline in the second half, so I told the players to get the ball forward quickly, and it worked."
Canada and the USA renew their rivalry at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United. The USA advanced to the semifinal with a 2-0 quarterfinal win over New Zealand in Newcastle.
Sydney Leroux, who added an 87th minute insurance marker on Friday, was born near Vancouver, but has dual Canadian/American citizenship.
“As far as I’m concerned, when I put on my jersey, I’m American,” Leroux said.
Canada achieved the same score to eliminate the host Great Britain side in Coventry to secure a berth in the women’s semifinal for the first time.
At the 2008 Games, the USA edged Canada 2-1 in extra time of a rain-delayed quarterfinal in Shanghai. The USA beat Canada 4-0 on Jan. 29 in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament at Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium, the ceremonies venue for the 2010 Winter Games.
"It'll be a really tough game,” said Canadian coach John Herdman.
“If you look at the stats, we've lost 46, won four and drawn five against them. We won in Kansas last year. It was 1-1 until the 86th minute. We don't fear the US. We're going in as underdogs, but underdogs rise up in these tournaments. We're in a great space to take on the world number one."
Canada’s last upset of the USA was a 3-0 win at the 2001 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
Canada have not won a medal in a summer team sport at an Olympics since Berlin 1936, when the men’s basketball team won silver.
By INSIDER’s Bob Mackin
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