Olympics: End of an era for Japanese women

In a stunning setback, Japan, winner of the 2011 Women's World Cup, silver-medalist at the 2012 Olympics and runner-up to the USA at the 2015 Women's World Cup, has been knocked out of Olympic women's qualifying at home. A 6-1 win over Vietnam -- its first in four games -- was not enough to prevent Australia and China from booking the two available spots with one game to play.

Twelve for Rio:
USA (6)
Brazil (6)
Sweden (6)
China (5)
Germany (5)
Australia (3)
Canada (3)
New Zealand (3)
Colombia (2)
France (2)
South Africa (2)
Zimbabwe (1)

Trouble began for Japan when it lost its opening game to Australia, now first with four wins in four games, 3-1. A 1-1 tie with South Korea and 2-1 loss to China followed. The victory over Japan was a huge coup of China's new French coach, Bruno Bini.

Although he has not confirmed his departure, the elimination will surely mean the exit of longtime Japan coach Norio Sasaki, who is expected to return to J-League men's club Omiya Ardija.

Japan won't have to worry about qualifying in 2020. Tokyo will host the Olympic Games.

“We can’t go to Rio," said Sasaki, "but for the next three four years we have to prepare well. Asian and world women’s football is really changing.”

All 12 berths in Rio have been determined. The last berth went to Sweden, the winner of the UEFA playoff ahead of Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland with one game to spare.
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