A dominant display by Japan fired them to a 5-0 victory over Zambia in a 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup match at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.
The Copper Queens’ debut appearance at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup got off to a horrible start in this Group C encounter.
Hinata Miyazawa opened the scoring two minutes before the halftime break before Minami Tanaka further thrust Japan ahead 10 minutes into the second half.
Miyazawa sealed her brace on 62 minutes while Jun Endo also found the target with 19 minutes to go and substitute Riko Ueki completed the rout from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time.
The World Cup debutants ended the match with 10 players after goalkeeper Catherine Musonda was red-carded in optional time.
Zambia began the contest on the back foot and just after seven minutes, Musonda denied Aoba Fujino with a critical tip over the bar.
Then two minutes later, the upright was to come to Zambia’s rescue after Fujino returned with a powerful strike.
Japan thought they had taken the lead in the 20th minute when Minami Tanaka put away an easy opportunity after Zambia had failed to defend a freekick.
But it was a reprieve for the Copper Queens after Swedish referee Tess Oloffson ruled offside after seeking VAR opinion.
It was all one-way traffic as Zambia rarely placed themselves in a position of promise and this time around Tanaka failed to connect a low cross with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Another excellent finger-tip save by Musonda off Fuka Nagano’s boot frustrated the 2011 world champions.
With halftime approaching, Miyazawa cooly slotted in Fujino’s cross to hand Japan the lead.
The Nadeshiko picked up from where they had left off as Tanaka finished off an Endo feed.
Just after the hour mark, Tanaka turned provider for Miyazawa to grab a double before Endo placed the match way beyond Zambia’s reach.
It was double delight for attacking midfielder Miyazawa with a brace and she was constantly a thorn in Zambia’s flesh. Playing in her first World Cup, the 23-year-old carried herself with the aplomb of a veteran.
After missing the Africa Women’s Nation’s Cup finals under controversial circumstances last year,Barbra Banda got herself an opportunity to showcase her talent on the big stage. But she struggled to assert herself throughout the match.
The Copper Queens now shift focus to Wednesday’s match against Spain while Japan prepare to face Costa Rica on the same day.