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Soccer: Kumagai, Iwabuchi head Nadeshiko Japan Olympic squad

This supplied photo shows manager Asako Takakura naming Japan's national women's soccer team for this summer's Tokyo Olympics in an online press conference on June 18, 2021. (Copyright JFA)(Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Captain Saki Kumagai and playmaker Mana Iwabuchi made Japan's 18-member women's Tokyo Olympic soccer team Friday.

    Competing on home soil, manager Asako Takakura's Nadeshiko Japan will bid to win Japan's first soccer gold medal.

    "We'll fight as one aiming to match and overtake the miraculous (Japan) teams that produced results at the world's top-level," Takakura told a press conference.

    Kumagai and Iwabuchi were both part of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad. Kumagai has moved to Bayern Munich for next season after a long successful spell at French side Lyon, while Iwabuchi joined Arsenal last month from Aston Villa.

    Midfielder Yui Hasegawa also spent the past season in Europe with AC Milan, as did forward Mina Tanaka, who was on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, while defender Saori Takarada and forward Yuka Momiki are currently playing in the United States.

    Ranked 11th in the current FIFA rankings, Nadeshiko Japan will take on No. 8 Canada in their July 21 Group E opener at Sapporo Dome two days before the Olympics' opening ceremony.

    They will also face Great Britain, comprised mainly of players from sixth-ranked England, as well as 37th-ranked Chile.

    Nadeshiko Japan will be making their fifth appearance at the Olympics. Takakura was named to manage the team after the 2012 London silver medalists failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

    Japan were the 2015 World Cup's beaten finalists, and exited the 2019 tournament in the round of 16.

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    Full squad:

    Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Reds), Ayaka Yamashita (INAC Kobe)

    Defenders: Saki Kumagai (Bayern Munich), Risa Shimizu, Asato Miyagawa, Nanami Kitamura (Nippon TV Beleza), Moeka Minami (Urawa Reds), Saori Takarada (Washington Spirits)

    Midfielders: Emi Nakajima, Hina Sugita (INAC Kobe), Yui Hasegawa (AC Milan), Narumi Miura, Jun Endo (Nippon TV Beleza), Yuzuho Shiokoshi (Urawa Reds)

    Forwards: Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Reds), Mana Iwabuchi (Arsenal), Mina Tanaka (INAC Kobe), Yuka Momiki (OL Reign)

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