Kumagai is the reigning AFC Ladies’s Participant of the 12 months
Well-known for scoring the title-winning penalty at Germany 2011
Japan captain out to win maiden Olympic gold
Saki Kumagai is a participant aware of gathering trophies.
As a 20-year-old she helped Japan win their first FIFA Ladies’s World Cup title at Germany 2011 earlier than ending because the runners-up 4 years later at Canada 2015. After being handed the captain’s armband in 2017, she skippered Nadeshiko to be topped champions on the 2018 AFC Ladies’s Asian Cup.
On the membership degree, she helped Urawa Reds to develop into Nadeshiko League champions in 2009 earlier than claiming six consecutive first-division titles with Olympique Lyonnais, plus profitable all previous 4 UEFA Ladies’s Champions League titles. Most lately, she was topped because the 2019 AFC Ladies’s Participant of the 12 months.
Maybe the one title which stays elusive for her is an Olympic gold medal. She figured prominently as Japan stormed to the ultimate at London 2012 solely to be edged out by america. They usually even didn’t qualify for Rio 2016, a disappointment which has additional sharpened her urge for food for redemption.
We lately caught up with the 29-year-old, whose sole intention for Tokyo 2020 is to seize the gold.
FIFA.com: Trying again, how do you mirror in your soccer profession to date? Are you happy with what you will have achieved?
Saki Kumagai: I believe my soccer profession to date has been actually blessed. In fact, I could not have come this far had it not been for the nice assist from so many individuals. To be trustworthy, I’m extra than simply proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m happy with all these outcomes which I’ve received along with my nice team-mates.
Successful the 2011 Ladies’s World Cup was such an early spotlight. You had been an integral a part of that squad and also you scored the ultimate’s profitable penalty. What do you keep in mind about that match and what does it imply for you?
I used to be solely 20 years outdated when taking part in on the 2011 Ladies’s World Cup. All that I may keep in mind now’s that we had been preventing desperately all through. I don’t consider it as my profession’s peak however profitable the Ladies’s World Cup and having the ability to expertise that victory is a really great and completely happy reminiscence.
You additionally scored the decisive penalty for Lyon within the 2016 UEFA Champions League Ultimate, following a player-of-the-match efficiency. Do you class your self as penalty specialist? What made you so profitable?
Actually, I’m neither good at nor keen on penalty kicks! Nonetheless, I had been given loads of alternatives of taking good care of spot-kicks after the 2011 Ladies’s World Cup ultimate. I’ve gained a great deal of expertise and with time I’ve develop into fairly succesful. I now take pleasure in dealing with the duty of dueling with goalkeepers. I simply think about the ball and I believe that is in all probability the rationale why I so usually win the battle and discover the again of the online.
It appeared that Japan rose from a promising Asian facet to probably the greatest on this planet in a single day in 2011. How did that change come about?
The 2011 Ladies’s World Cup success needs to be firstly attributed to our revered veterans. That they had labored exhausting and gone by way of a lot hardship to achieve that degree and led the crew to be world champions. Above all, it was our never-say-die spirit that carried us by way of in that Ladies’s World Cup because the crew made notable progress.
After 2011 you moved to Europe and also you spent two years with Frankfurt, earlier than making the change to Olympique Lyonnais, the place you continue to play. What expertise have you ever gained by taking part in with these European giants?
I’ve honed my expertise and been toughened up in competing towards high sides. These are useful experiences for Japanese gamers when trying to counter the world’s finest groups and win.
Having seen the earlier technology retire, now a bunch of younger gamers have been absolutely built-in into the facet. How do you view the present crew below coach Asako Takakura?
On this crew there are fairly a number of promising gamers who’ve superb approach. They’ve huge potential.
And as captain, how do you view your position?
The concept is that we’ve got free and clean communication throughout the crew. My hope is that our gamers can say something they should. My a part of the job is creating the ambiance and fueling the chemistry for such a crew.
Japan’s transition between generations has seemed clean, contemplating that you just received the 2018 Asian Cup and the current East Ladies’s Asian Cup. What targets have you ever set for the 2020 Ladies’s Olympic Soccer Event as hosts?
Our purpose is to win the gold medal on the 2020 Olympic Video games on residence soil. Nothing extra and nothing much less.
What targets have you ever set for the brand new 12 months of 2020?
The purpose is to cherish daily, to benefit from the current as I proceed pushing ahead.
The achievements by the Nadeshiko have made a huge impact on the ladies’s recreation in Japan. As a participant, I wish to do no matter I can to assist the crew and make ladies’s soccer progress even additional.