Nadeshiko Japan Returns Home after Competing in World Cup

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nadeshiko Japan captain Saki Kumagai is seen when the team arrived from New Zealand at Haneda Airport on Saturday.

Tokyo/Narita, Chiba Pref., (Jiji Press)—Members of the Japanese women’s national soccer team, or Nadeshiko Japan, returned home from New Zealand on Saturday after making it into the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Some of the members arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport and the others flew to Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo.

At Haneda, about 350 people welcomed back the members, including Nadeshiko Japan captain Saki Kumagai and Futoshi Ikeda, head coach of the team.

After winning all three matches in the group stage, Nadeshiko Japan defeated Norway 3-1 in a round of 16 match. But Japan lost to Sweden 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Japan reached the World Cup last eight for the first time in two tournaments.

“We were the best team,” Kumagai said, looking back on the 2023 tournament. “We did what we could. At the same time, however, I think that we could have done more.” Kumagai vowed to practice hard for the 2024 Paris Olympics, with the qualifications for the Games set to start this autumn.

“I spent a very fulfilling month with my best teammates,” Hinata Miyazawa, who scored five goals in the World Cup, said, suggesting that it was almost her best experience ever. “I will face myself and grow.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Futoshi Ikeda, head coach of the team, and Nadeshiko players walk at Haneda Airport on Saturday.