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Monday, April 16, 2012

Sawa misses Nadeshiko League opening rout


KOBE — Women's World Player of the Year Homare Sawa, still suffering from the effects of vertigo, missed INAC Kobe Leonessa's opening Nadeshiko League match Sunday, but the reigning champions still ran out 7-0 winners over promoted Speranza Osaka Takatsuki.

Sawa warmed up during the match but INAC coach Kei Hoshikawa decided it was best to keep the 33-year-old star of Japan's 2011 World Cup win on the bench.

"I thought all the expectations with us playing at home would be stressful (for Sawa)," said Hoshikawa.

Sawa looked sharp for most of training on Saturday but the midfielder did not attempt to head the ball as she had been scheduled to do.

"With a bit more preparation I think she'll be okay for next week," said Hoshikawa.

The 33-year-old Sawa did not play at the Kirin Challenge Cup against the United States and Brazil earlier this month. She first showed symptoms of her condition in March during the invitational Algarve Cup in Portugal.

Sawa's national teammate Shinobu Ono was one of six different players to get their names on the scoresheet for INAC, becoming the league's all-time top scorer with 151 goals in the process.

Ono in the final game of last season matched the record of 150 goals set by former Tasaki Perule and Japan striker Mio Otani, but went one better on the afternoon when she made it 2-0 with a free kick in the 31st minute.

"It hasn't sunk in at all yet," said Ono.

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