SOCCER/ Sawa ready for break after unbeaten season

January 03, 2012

Since Japan won the Women's World Cup in Germany in July, captain Homare Sawa has been overwhelmed with media appearances.

But now, after her team INAC Kobe Leonessa won its second straight All Japan Women's Football Championship, beating Albirex Niigata 3-0 on New Year's Day, the 2011 soccer season is over, and Sawa is looking forward to a break.

"I've been motivated by not wanting to lose a single game this season," she said. "I'm happy we were able to remain undefeated."

"But I'm really worn out. I want some time off," she added.

On New Year's Eve, the night before the finals, Sawa and six other Nadeshiko Japan members from Kobe appeared on "Kohaku Utagassen," NHK's annual year-end live music program.

If tired, they didn't show it the next day. The 33-year-old Sawa set up the team's opening goal late in the first half.

Sawa moved to the Kobe club from NTV Beleza last year because her former club did not offer her a professional contract. INAC Kobe won both the tournament and the Nadeshiko League while going undefeated.

"I'm glad we did well in the last event of the 2011 season and made a good start to the new year," Sawa said.

The team plans to travel to Barcelona later this month as a reward for winning its first league title. Sawa and her teammates are scheduled to play Barcelona's women's team and watch an FC Barcelona match.

"I hope to be really inspired by watching a Barcelona game live," she said. "Perhaps we can relax there. The trip should give us an opportunity to freshen up mentally."

"I'll take a break for a while, and then I want to start getting ready for the London Olympics six months later," she added.

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INAC Kobe Leonessa midfielder Hamore Sawa (Photo by Jun Ueda)

INAC Kobe Leonessa midfielder Hamore Sawa (Photo by Jun Ueda)

  • INAC Kobe Leonessa midfielder Hamore Sawa (Photo by Jun Ueda)

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