England Blind compete in the first-ever IBSA Women's World Championship
Match report from England Blind Women's game against world number one side Japan at the 2023 IBSA World Games in Birmingham
England Blind Women made history this morning by competing in the first-ever IBSA Blind Women’s World Championship.
The Para Lions knew they would be in for a tough afternoon at the 2023 World Games in Birmingham as whilst the England Women Blind team is a relatively new side competing at their first major tournament, they faced a Japan team who are number one in the world.
Japan proved why they are one of the world’s best teams during an impressive first half which saw the outstanding Sopa Kikushima score a six-minute hat-trick before the visitors went on to win 5-0.
Japan took the lead in emphatic fashion at the University of Birmingham’s Sports Campus after just over a minute, when Sopa Kikushima thumped the ball into the top corner with an impressive right-footed finish.
England vs Japan | IBSA World Games 2023
Watch the full match as the Para Lions take on the world's number one side
Kikushima continued to cause England real problems in the opening minutes as she hit the outside of the post and then forced Katie Christopher into a good save.
The second goal for Japan’s number ten arrived when she gathered a misplaced back-pass and struck powerfully past Christopher.
And Kikushima completed a six-minute hat-trick by cutting inside from the right and firing another powerful shot into the roof of the net.
Japan had a fourth goal in the 11th minute when Haruka Wakasugiz dribbled before sending a low shot into the bottom corner.
Sam Gough almost pulled one back when she produced an excellent dribble across the pitch but was unable to make the final contact needed when in front of goal.
England had stemmed the tide either side of half-time but then Japan scored a fifth goal with another exceptional finish, this time via a classy right-footed shot from distance by Hana Shimatani.
Gough was providing England with an attacking outlet though and more impressive dribbling saw her close in on goal but just as she was about to shoot, goalkeeper Riina Wachi dived at her feet.
Mako Takeuchi’s influence on the game was growing and Japan’s captain twice forced substitute goalkeeper Megan Brierley into good saves.
Next up for England Blind Women will be Morocco at 10.30am tomorrow morning, with the England Blind Men also in action against Germany at 4.30pm in the afternoon.
England: 13 Katie Christopher, 4 Ayman Hafiz ©, 5 Alice Hopkins, 9 Sam Gough, 11 Emma Stead
Substitutes: 7 Lucja Wyrwantowicz for Stead 8, 2 Selina Prieto for Hafiz 15, 1 Megan Brierley for Christopher 15, 3 Natasha Mead for Gough
Japan: 1 Riina Wachi, 7 Mako Takeuchi ©, 10 Sopa Kikushima, 14 Haruka WakasugizSubstitutes: 23 Machiko Terabayashi, 5 Miwako Kaga, 16 Ichika Tanaka, 13 Hana Shimatani.
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