Australia face tough, but familiar, foe in Japan

Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:45pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

EDMONTON (Reuters) - After some tough physical battles en route to the last eight of the Women's World Cup, Australia will face a very different challenge against defending champions Japan in Saturday’s quarter-final.

But while Japan's impressive short-passing and quick movement game is in contrast to the more direct teams the Matildas have faced so far, the Japanese are familiar foes.

The two teams compete in the same regional competitions and met twice in last year's AFC Women's Asian Cup where Japan beat Australia 1-0 in the final after they drew 2-2 in group play.

"We know how they play and we know how to match up against them, we just have to adjust our game plan a little bit and be really switched on," Australian defender Steph Catley told reporters on Thursday.

"They are such smart players and really technical on the ball, so we will definitely be looking at them carefully but we know how they play and so we will be ready for that."

Australia's record against Japan isn't great however - they have won two of the last 10 meetings and their most recent victory was five years ago.

Catley says the Aussies will have to be particular careful in dead-ball situations.

"They are extremely dangerous off set-pieces, the goal they got against us at the Asian Cup was off a set-piece, so we will be looking at that," said Catley.   Continued...

Jun 23, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Japan defender Saori Ariyoshi (19) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Netherlands during the first half in the round of sixteen in the FIFA 2015 women's World Cup soccer tournament at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports