Japan finds new motivation for World Cup final

Sat Jul 4, 2015 8:28pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Four years ago the Japan women's soccer team, inspired by a nation recovering from a devastating earthquake and tsunami, lifted their reeling country's spirits by winning the World Cup.

Japan will defend that crown on Sunday in Vancouver against the United States and this time coach Norio Sasaki said his team needs no such motivation as they bid to join Germany as the only country to claim back-to-back titles.

"In 2011 Japan suffered a great earthquake and tsunami and the people in Japan really got interested in the Women's World Cup," Sasaki told reporters before this team went out for the their final practise session at BC Place.

"The players responded to that and played every game hard and won and inspired the people in Japan.

"In 2011 I did a lot of things to keep the motivation high, I made videos of the earthquake devastation and they watched that.

"In this tournament I did not do that, I didn't make any videos because they already have that experience and each player has a good mindset.

"This team has matured and the experiences they have had give inspiration to them.

"Compared to 2011 mentally they are stronger as a team."   Continued...

Japan celebrates after beating England in the semifinals of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium.  Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports