(Reuters) - Japan’s women’s soccer team, former world champions, failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics as Australia and China booked the two available spots in the Asian qualifiers for the tournament.
China eliminated them with a 1-0 win over South Korea on Monday which meant Japan, who have four points, cannot catch their Asian rivals on 10 or Australia on 12 with one match left against North Korea.
“Nadeshiko” Japan won the 2011 women’s World Cup, finished runners-up at the 2012 Summer Games and reached last year’s World Cup final against the United States. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed them as role models for the country.
But two defeats and a draw in their first three matches sent them out before they thumped Vietnam 6-1 in Osaka on Monday.
Australia’s 2-1 victory over North Korea made it four wins from four qualifying matches and took China out of the reach of North Korea, who have five points.
Only the top two from the six-team group in Asia qualify for the Rio Games.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Alison Williams and Ed Osmond