World Cup NOW: Does 5-0 win mean Japan is a real threat?

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup That continued on Saturday, as Japan posted a dominant scoreline in a 5–0 victory, the most goals scored by any team in the tournament so far.

Led by Mina Tanaka and Hinata Miyazawa, the team looked comfortable against an inexperienced Zambia line-up, who took the field with their reserve goalkeeper. Still, Japan’s performance was impressive and could be a sign of good things to come.

The “World Cup Now” crew – Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne and Melissa Ortiz – discuss whether it is wise to attack Japan with full force, or whether Zambia’s stellar performance helped their rival to an easy victory.

Ortiz: “We saw from Japan today how organized they were. They stuck to their game plan and they were able to really use their strength to organize…. He was often told this, and then he went through this dry phase, but I think he has found his grip again in today’s performance.

Holden: “So wait… are we thinking of a really good Japan, or a really bad Zambia? Because I will say, as good as Japan was – super impressive, won the game 5-0 – some of the defense I saw from Zambia tonight, and the goalkeeping….they’re missing [Hazel] drain, their starter is dead, so then [Catherine] Musonda is out. … you too [Jimmy] Initially selected him as their player to watch as he scored 18 goals in six matches. Well, prepare it – he accepted four out of five. …it doesn’t help, especially if your team is pretty disorganized defensively. What frustrates me the most from Zambia’s point of view is that they have made it too easy for Japan. I’m a little wary about going all out in Japan.

Ortiz: “No, I agree. Fun fact, Zambia has been in camp for over a month now.

Holden: “Did he do any work on defense?”

Ortiz: “No.”

Conrad: “… there was nothing that worked for them tonight, and I think Japan’s performance… is a bit misleading because if we go back to the Shebelievs Cup which was in America, they played Brazil, lost 1-0, they played America, lost 1-0. And when he started this tournament…he struggled to score goals and faced a lot of criticism. And that was a very professional performance from Japan. Send others.’

Ortiz: “Well, I think one of the things to note is also that they’re up against Barbara Banda, and Barbara Banda, as we’ve seen, is largely unstoppable. … I want to commend Japan on how they handled a striker like Barbara Banda, that means they were very calm and organized defensively. You saw that every time Barbara got the ball, there were two, even three defenders around her. And I think it was clearly part of the game plan, but they stuck to it. He made sure she wasn’t strong on the ball.”

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