for this game

Japan eyes spot in knockout round with win over Mexico

Jun 30, 2011 - 10:59 PM Leverkusen, Germany (Sports Network) - Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar entered the Women's World Cup in a confident mood, and he certainly had to be pleased with his team's 1-1 draw against England on Monday to open Group B play.

El Tri was viewed as an underdog against the English, which many people picked to easily advance to the knockout round.

But after conceding the opening goal from a corner kick in the 21st minute, Monica Ocampo scored a brilliant goal that helped Mexico claim its first-ever point at a World Cup.

"I definitely didn't like our beginning," Cuellar said. "We lost too many balls and took a while to settle but in the end we created opportunities."

In the end Mexico has one point from its opening match and faces an equally tough test in Japan on Friday, which won its first game, 2-1, against New Zealand.

The Japanese started fast with a goal in the first six minutes, but quickly yielded the equalizer before finally netting the winning goal on a free kick from Aya Miyama in the 68th minute.

"It was a very tough game. New Zealand had a lot of chances and the final score could have been anything, but I thought our standard was higher in the second half," Japan coach Norio Sasaki said. "We're still making a lot of mistakes and we have to put that right, especially all those missed chances in the final half an hour."

Japan is the fourth-ranked team in the world, and although they struggled a bit against New Zealand, the Nadeshiko still claimed three points and can book a place in the knockout round with a win on Friday.

One player who had a huge impact in the second half after coming into the match as a substitute was 18-year-old forward Mana Iwabuchi, who created a few late scoring chances and showed why she is viewed as the future of Japanese soccer.

For a team that just earned its first point, Mexico is still very confident it has more to achieve in Germany, and El Tri will once again find itself in the underdog role on Friday.

"We haven't reached our goal yet so we will continue to work over the coming days," Cuellar said. "We have in our mind that we can achieve something special here."