By Celia Balf
On Monday, Japan announced the 23-player roster for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan, their qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The squad features two NWSL players: Nahomi Kawasumi and Rumi Utsugi of Seattle Reign FC.
Both players will travel to Japan following Saturday’s opening game at home vs. Washington and are expected to return prior to Seattle’s game on April 28, the Reign said. The tournament runs from April 7-22.
Japan are the reigning AFC Women’s Asian Cup Champions after defeating Australia 1-0 for the crown in 2014. Asako Takakura’s team will start the tournament on April 7 against Vietnam, and will then face Australia for a rematch on April 13.
Kawasumi makes her return to the national team roster for the first time since 2016. She led the league with nine assists in 2017, including an NWSL-record four in one game. She also became the first player to be directly involved in five goals in one match. Utsugi scored one goal and added two assists in 20 matches for the Reign last season.
— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) March 19, 2018
Japan will look to become the first team to win consecutive AFC Women’s Asian Cup titles since DPR Korea in 2003 and will first test out their roster against Ghana in an international friendly on Sunday, April 1 before taking off to Jordan.
Japan roster for AFC Women’s Asian Cup
Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Red Diamonds), Rumi Utsugi (Seattle Reign FC), Aya Sameshima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais), Nana Ichise (Vegalta Sendai), Saori Ariyoshi (NTV Beleza), Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Mana Iwabuchi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Nahomi Kawasumi (Seattle Reign FC), Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), Mina Tanaka (NTV Beleza), Hikaru Naomoto (Urawa Red Diamonds), Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds),Yui Hasegawa (NTV Beleza), Yu Nakasato (NTV Beleza), Rin Sumida (NTV Beleza), Hikari Takagi (Npjima Stella Kanagawa), Ayaka Yamahsita (NTV Beleza), Rika Masuya (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kumi Yokoyama (FFC Turbine Potsdam), Chika Hirao (Albirex Niigata), Risa Shimizu (NTV Beleza), Shiori Miyake (INAC Kobe Leonessa.)