U.S coach praises Japan for bringing possession into play

Sat Jul 4, 2015 10:13pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Japan's World Cup victory four years ago with a possession style approach was a turning point for the women's game that will be reflected in Sunday's final, according to United States head coach Jill Ellis.

Japan became the first Asian team to win the World Cup when they defeated the U.S on penalties in the final having despatched traditional European powers Germany and Sweden.

"I think 2011, it was a watershed moment with Japan winning," said Ellis ahead of the 2015 final between the two sides at BC Place.

"I think the quarter-final win over Germany, it made everybody in the world realize that having the ball has a big part to do with being successful.

"It doesn't matter how big or strong you are, the technique part is a massive part of the game."

While Ellis's team beat Japan for the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, she believed the style of playing implemented by Japan coach Norio Sasaki has influenced her own team.

"I think it made everyone realize that the refinement of technique and the constant evolution of the technical game, is really important to development," she said.

"So I think they have helped us and everyone else in terms of recognizing what is important." While the U.S. may have evolved from a more athletic and direct style, seeking to mix in more possession play, Sasaki said there still is a core difference between the two teams.   Continued...

United States head coach Jill Ellis responds to a question during a press conference after a training session for the 2015 Women's World Cup at B.C. Place. Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports