FIVB World Cup: Japan aim for eight wins – at least
Japan's ready for the action in the FIVB World Cup
Tokyo, October 29, 2007 - Japan coach Shoichi Yanagimoto has set a minimum target of eight wins from 11 games for the host team at the women’s World Cup, which starts on Friday.
After announcing his 12-strong squad for the 12-team World Cup at a news conference in the team hotel in downtown Shinjuku on Monday, Yanagimoto revealed his ambitious goal.
“The target is to win a medal - bronze, silver or gold I don’t care,” he said with a smile.
“For this, eight wins is the bottom line, but hopefully we can go above that.
“I think the level of the team now is the same as for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2004, and we want to qualify for the next Olympics at the World Cup.”
There are several reasons for Yanagimoto to feel so optimistic.
First, his well-drilled team is packed with players who have Olympic experience – seven of them in Athens three years ago and one, Asako Tajimi, who represented Japan at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.
Second, his dynamic pair of young wing spikers – Megumi Kurihara and Kana Oyama, both now 23 – have been reunited in the same Japan 12 for the first time since the Athens Olympics due to a catalogue of injuries for both players.
Kurihara has enjoyed a tremendous comeback season in 2007, and Oyama will provide firepower off the bench if not in the starting six.
Third, Japan’s world ranking of seventh puts them behind only Brazil (3), Italy (4) and Cuba (5) in the World Cup field, as Russia (1), China (2) and the Netherlands (6) will not compete here.
The center of attention for the near 100-strong media turn-out at the news conference was newcomer Yuki Kawai, a 17-year-old high school student who will be the back-up setter to captain Yoshie Takeshita – her favourite player and inspiration.
“She has very good handling skills,” Yanagimoto, a former national team setter himself, says of Kawai. “Her age is not important; it is about her talent.”
A packed news conference involved 35 representatives from various TV stations and 54 from newspapers and magazines, highlighting the wide interest at the start of World Cup week.
Japan’s World Cup 12 is: Megumi Kurihara (wing spiker), Kana Oyama (wing spiker), Yoshie Takeshita (setter), Miyuki Takahashi (wing spiker), Asako Tajimi (middle blocker), Sachiko Sugiyama (middle blocker), Erika Araki (middle blocker), Saori Kimura (wing spiker/setter), Yuki Kawai (setter), Kanako Omura (middle blocker), Yuko Sano (libero), Yuki Shoji (middle blocker).