Japanese wary of rampaging Mexicans

Title-hopefuls Japan will be wary to avoid a potential upset here on Friday when they meet a Mexico side riding high in confidence in their second Group B match at the Women's World Cup.

The Mexicans pulled off one of the surprises of the tournament so far by holding England 1-1 in Wolfsburg to achieve their first-ever point in their second World Cup.

The goal may have been a freak long-range effort from forward Monica Ocampo but it was only the second achieved by the Central Americans in the world tournament after veteran Maribel Dominquez 12 years ago.

Although Japan coach Norio Sasaki's 'Nadeshiko' are atop Group B after an assured 2-1 win over New Zealand in Bochum, he knows his side face a fight against a team they have played in friendlies and qualifiers in recent years.

"Mexico are very technical. It will not be easy," said Sasaki. "In recent years Mexico have gained power and improved. We feel it won't be easy."

For the Mexicans, the point gained was a huge leap forward as they remain in the running for one of the two group tickets for the quarter-finals.

"We have taken a great step," said midfielder Nayeli Ranger. "We showed we are a well organised and strong team."

Coach Leonard Cuellar is confident captain Dominguez will be fit after the 32-year-old was stretched off against England with a cramp.

Dominguez, who is the only member of the team to have played in a previous World Cup in 1999, came back onto the pitch but was substituted soon after by Cuellar as a precaution.

"I think it's nothing serious. Hopefully I can be in the match against Japan at 100 percent," she said.

"I feel really good. It's a great opportunity to play another World Cup and I hope that we can continue enjoying it all."

Cuellar is anticipating a "complicated" game against the 1995 quarter-finalists, who put the Mexicans out of the tournament twice.

"We will have to work very hard to prepare for the game against Japan but we hope we can achieve something special," he added

AFP

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