The runner-up at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and 2012 Olympics needs an incredible amount of help to qualify for the Rio Games.
Japan has started the Asian Olympic women’s soccer qualifying tournament with one draw and two defeats in its first three of five total matches.
The top two nations in the six-nation tournament will qualify for the Olympics.
If Japan wins its final two qualifying matches, it will reach seven points. However, Australia is already at nine points. China is now at seven points after upsetting Japan 2-1 on Friday.
What must happen for Japan to qualify for Rio:
Monday, March 7
Japan beats Vietnam
Australia beats/ties North Korea
South Korea beats China
Wednesday, March 9
Japan beats North Korea
Australia beats China
Vietnam beats/ties South Korea
Japan makes up a six-goal deficit in goal differential on China.
“I feel really bad for the fans, but as long as there is still a possibility [that we can qualify] I want us all to fight in the last two games,” Japan coach Norio Sasaki said, according to Kyodo News. “We can’t let our heads drop and want to make an effort in the next two games. The most important thing is to reset mentally.”
The U.S. and Japan met in the finals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, 2012 Olympics and 2015 Women’s World Cup.
“I know this sounds harsh but watching from the outside, I really wonder how many of the players are out on the pitch dying to win, giving it their all for the team,” said former national team captain and 2011 FIFA Player of the Year Homare Sawa before Friday’s match, according to Kyodo News. “I don’t sense enough desire, to be truthful.”