Gifu, Japan (29 June, 2016): Sakura Japan maintained an unbeaten run of four consecutive wins in the recent Test series at home against Canada in their run-up to the Rio Olympics.
The Japanese women’s team is ranked 10th in the world and will join Asian giants China, Korea and India in the Summer Olympics in this Brazilian city. They are drawn in Group B in Rio together with Hero Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy winners and World No 2 Argentina, Australia (3), United States (5), Great Britain (7) and India (13).
Reigning Olympic and World Champions Netherlands (Ranked World No 1), New Zealand (4), China (6), Korea (8), Germany (9) and Spain (14) are in Group A.
Japan won the opening match 3-0 in Osaka last Thursday. Ayaka Nishimura scored the first goal in the 11th minute from a penalty corner and the Japanese followed that up with goals in the second and third quarters from Hazuki Nagai and Minami Shimizu.
The hosts won the second match 2-0 via a penalty corner conversion in the 55th minute after Canadian keeper Rowan Harris made two saves but Aki Mitsuhashi netted a rebound for the 2-0 victory.
Canada lost the third Test match 5-1 in Gifu. After a scoreless first quarter, Japan scored two goals in the second quarter to open up a 2-0 lead. They added another early in the third to go up 3-0 before Holy Stewart’s tally made the match 3-1
For the Canadians, currently ranked 18th in the latest FIH world ranking list announced on Wednesday, the Japan Tour was their first top-level action match since competing in the 2016 Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand in early April. The two teams met in the preliminary round in New Zealand, with the Japanese coming out on top 6-2.
Despite going winless in the four-game series, the Canadians are pleased with their performance against the higher ranked side from Japan.
“Overall, it was a very satisfying tour,” says Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge. “To see the team string four very solid performances together; we made major head ways into our game and had all of our team systems assessed thoroughly by a very good and experienced Japanese team.”
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