DUNEDIN: Japan forward Mina Tanaka said the Nadeshiko will be less nervous in their second Women’s World Cup match against Costa Rica on Wednesday and are looking to improve even on their impressive performance in their opener against Zambia.
Tanaka scored a goal and had two ruled out by VAR decisions as Japan opened their World Cup Group C account with a 5-0 thrashing of the Africans at the weekend, laying down a marker for the title contenders.
The 2011 champions and 2015 runners-up are determined to go deep in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand after tumbling out in the last 16 four years ago.
“The first match was tough. We still got five goals. They got zero shots. We did it as a team and that was wonderful,” the 29-year-old told reporters on Tuesday.
“This is the second match and we’re less nervous. I think we can play better. That’s what I believe and personally I’m glad that we got the points last time but I want to be more relaxed and contribute more to the team.”
Tanaka said the Japan attackers would need to be more wary of straying offside after having two goals and a penalty called back by VAR for such offences against Zambia.
That would not deter them, though, from playing the attacking brand of football that proved so effective against the 77th-ranked Africans.
“We’re going to be more aggressive,” she said. “We’re going to go towards the goal and try and get shots off. Wherever we can slide in, we’re going to slide in.
“As soon as we get the ball we want to play it smoothly through the midfield and get it forward as quickly as possible.”
Coach Futoshi Ikeda said he was not certain about what kind of game the Costa Ricans would play but was sure they had enough quality to punish Japan on the break if there were any lapses in concentration.
“I think we’re getting used to the World Cup,” he said. “I think we could bring out more, but we don’t want to be too complacent so they hit us when we’re not looking.”