JAPAN women’s football coach Norio Sasaki hit back after being criticised for ordering the world champions not to win their final first-round game at the London Olympics.
A defiant Sasaki denied any rule-bending on his part in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against South Africa.
“We never set out with the intention for playing for a draw,” he told reporters after his team beat Brazil 2-0 in Cardiff on Friday to reach the semi-finals. “We never tried to play for a draw from the start.
“From the start we were playing for three points. I made a decision based on the way the game was going and with time running out.”
Sasaki’s instructions to his players not to press for a winner against South Africa meant Japan went through in second place behind Sweden in Group F.
It also ensured they stayed in Cardiff for Friday’s quarter-final and did not have to travel to Glasgow, triggering criticism from rival coaches. — Reuters