Netherlands relishing Japan rematch at Women's World Cup

Japan came out on top four years ago but Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman is confident her side can progress at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Netherlands ended the group stage with a perfect three wins out of three.   -  Getty Images

Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman is relishing the chance to take on Japan once again at the Women's World Cup.

Thursday's 2-1 win against Canada ensured Netherlands ended the group stage with a perfect three wins out of three.

Their reward is a last-16 tie against Japan, who knocked them out at the same stage four years ago en route to losing to the United States in the final.

"First of all, I'm very pleased with the victory," Wiegman told a news conference. "We played against a stronger opponent, very structured, and it was a different challenge to the one we faced against Cameroon.

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"But we played well as a team, adapted well, and the performance was great. In 2019, Canada had conceded just one goal before today. So to score two goals in one game is fantastic.

"Now I hope we'll play well against Japan too. We played against them in the last 16 four years ago and know what they're all about.

"They're a very disciplined team and we expect the same again. But the Dutch team has made great strides since then."

Canada will face Sweden in the next round but their coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller was unhappy to see his side suffer their first defeat of the year.

"We played a team that was prepared and unafraid and they stepped forward and were very aggressive," Heiner-Moller told reporters.

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"We lost the ball too often, too early and were a bit stretched at times. And against good teams, if you give them an inch, they'll take a yard.

"We were a bit tighter in the second half but they took advantage well of the gaps we did leave. But we won't mind playing anyone in this tournament. If we play to our best, we can beat anyone.

"I can't even remember how long it is since we last lost a match and it's a really bad feeling, I can tell you."

Canada captain Christine Sinclair could at least celebrate becoming the second player, after Brazil icon Marta, to score at five Women's World Cups thanks to her equaliser.

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"If there's anything this team has shown, it's that we learn very quickly," Sinclair said. "You look at the last two Olympics and when we've had bad results, we've bounced back very quickly.

"I've no doubts that we'll be super-prepared for our opponents in the next round. This was definitely a step-up in quality and a wake-up call for us. It took us a while to get into the game and that can't happen against the best teams."

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