Two-time AFC Women’s Player of the Year winner Homare Sawa will get a chance to appear in a sixth straight Women’s World Cup after being named to Nadeshiko Japan’s Canada 2015 squad on Friday.
Although the 36-year-old has not been called up since the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, her form for club team INAC Kobe Leonessa in this season’s Nadeshiko League has earned the confidence of national team coach Norio Sasaki.
“I wanted her to come with us to the Algarve Cup [in March], but she was just coming back from an injury,” Suzuki told reporters at the press conference in downtown Tokyo’s JFA House. “She plays harder than anyone in INAC and I have no problems with her performance. She can play focused for 90 minutes and that’s the sort of player we need.”
With the defending champions scheduled to hold friendlies in late May against New Zealand and Italy before departing for Canada, Sawa could earn her 200th international cap as soon as June 8 when Japan face Switzerland in their group stage opener.
Sawa is one of just five players with five Women’s World Cup appearances. Only one other, Brazilian midfielder Formiga, is still on active international duty and expected to appear in Canada.
“I hope the other players will look to [Sawa] as an example, and I hope she’ll be a pillar of the squad,” Sasaki said. “I expect her to deliver a trademark performance.”