Silent but deadly. Like a ninja. CREDIT: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images
Though there's a fire burns inside her, outside is ivory, silk and ice
Nothing she wants is denied her, you'd better take my advice
Many has tried to get near her, deep in the heart of Tokyo
Found nothing there but a mirror, she's no one you'll ever know...
- "Tokyo Girl", Ace of Base
The flame has yet to be lit, but here we are -- the 2012 Suummer Olympic footy tournament is about to begin. And 170 kilometres away from where that sacred flame will burn, Canada's women's team will open their quest for gold this morning -- and the first task is a doozy: Japan, the reigning World Cup champions -- a squad largely intact from their victory in Frankfurt a year ago.
The names are familiar: Homare Sawa, Aya Miyama, Yuki Ogimi (nee Nagasato), Shinobu Ohno, Saki Kumagai -- names that dance in the minds of the vanquished Americans (who are in Group G here), and names that the Canadians must take down. Fate has been kinder to the Nadeshiko Japan since the teams' last meeting four years ago at the Cyprus Cup, but this should promise to be a battle royale -- one team seeks to defend honour, while another seeks to gain more. Cue the cherry blossom petals whooshing through the air!
The Japanese are mostly unchanged from their World Cup win a year and a half ago; with all 14 players in England (just one has changed their name, which sort of threw me off for about ten seconds...curse you Yuki Nagasato!) The Canadians are largely unchanged from that tournament, the major exception being the addition of Lauren Sesselman to the defensive corps, and the moving of Carmelina Moscato to join her there.
For your pre-match reading pleasure, we have Duncan's tee up for the tournament, while I look at the four ways Canada could end up after the group stages. There's also a Better Know Your Olympic Enemy file on the Japanese, while SB Nation's Kevin McCauley has a short blurb about the game, and a preview of the tournament.
Plus you can WIN one of TWO Christine Sinclair jerseys (courtesy of our friends over at Umbro) by playing our Are You Smarter Than Carolina Morace? result prediction game.
I will be present during the match as much as possible, so join us pre-match for all the team news, followed by live game thread of the action from Coventry. So join us as we witness a fiery clash to cleanse the demons to forge honour in the green fields of England!