Japan Celebrates Women’s World Cup Victory

Posted July 18th, 2011 at 12:10 am (UTC-5)
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Japan's victory in the Women's World Cup has given the country a welcome break from months of tragedy and stress brought on by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown.

When Saki Kumagai completed a penalty shootout victory over the United States, bars and clubs across Tokyo exploded with cheers.

Jubilant fans, who had been watching the broadcast live from Frankfurt, poured into the streets of Tokyo where newspaper vendors handed out special editions celebrating the first world title for an Asian team. Television stations replayed the winning shot over and over.

Norio Sasaki, coach of Japan's team Nadeshiko, told a morning television program that the team had felt the power from everybody watching in Japan.

The team defeated Sweden 3-1 Wednesday evening in Frankfurt, to advance to the World Cup final for the first time. After the win, the players unfurled a large banner thanking the world for its support and help following Japan's earthquake and tsunami, which left almost 21,000 people dead or missing.

The team takes its name, “Nadeshiko,” from a large, pink flower of the carnation family.