Zambia vs Japan odds and betting statistics
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Zambia vs Japan match preview
Will former-winners Japan kick off with a victory in Hamilton, or can Zambia cause an upset?
Just four nations have ever won the World Cup, one of which is Japan, beating USA on penalties in the 2011 final in Frankfurt.
Four years later, the same two teams met in the final again, only this time the United States cruised to a 5-2 victory in Vancouver.
Since then, the Nadeshiko haven’t been able to live up to those heights, exiting in the last 16 at the most-recent World Cup, ousted by Netherlands, before crashing out in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Olympics on home soil.
For this tournament, Futoshi Ikeda has named a very youthful squad, the vast majority of which are aged 26 or under, as he looks to bring through the next generation of Japanese players.
So far this year, they’ve suffered narrow 1-0 friendly defeats to USA, Brazil and Denmark whilst also enjoying wins over Canada and Portugal, showing that this team will take some stopping.
In stark contrast to their illustrious opponents, Zambia are set to make their World Cup debut, qualifying by virtue of reaching last summer’s WAFCON semi-finals.
The Copper Queens though have featured at a major, intercontinental tournament recently, namely that aforementioned Tokyo Olympics two summers ago.
To say Zambia were entertaining at that competition would be an understatement, first suffering a 10-3 defeat to Netherlands, before a 4-4 draw with China PR; Barbra Banda bagging a hat-trick in both.
Even after a 1-0 defeat to Brazil in their final group fixture, their fixtures averaged a goal every 12 minutes at the Olympics, with neutrals certainly hoping that ratio continues this summer.
So, expect plenty of goals at Waikato Stadium, with Japan likely to prevail.
Zambia team news
In the build-up to this tournament, Bruce Mwape’s team drew 3-3 with Switzerland before a 3-2 victory over Germany in Fürth.
The reason that Zambia’s games often feature plenty of goals is down to the fact that their talent can all be found in attacking areas.
The aforementioned Barbra Banda scored two hat-tricks at the Olympics, also netting twice in the win in Germany earlier this month.
Madrid CFF teammates Grace Chanda and Racheal Kundananji as well as Ochumba Oseke Lubandji form quite a formidable front four in-behind Banda.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Musonda; Belumu, Musase, Mweemba, Tembo; S Banda, Katongo, Chanda; Ochumba, Kundananji, Banda.
Japan teams news
Futoshi Ikeda’s team usually operates out of a back five, although this’ll be more of a three here and against Costa Rica on Wednesday.
That’ll certainly suit Jun Endō, who plays in attack for Angel City FC in NWSL, but is deployed at left-wing-back for her country.
Yui Hasegawa and Mina Tanaka are the only members of this squad to be in double digits for international goals.
Predicted XI (5-4-1): Yamashita; Shimizu, Takahashi, Kumagai, Minami, Endō; Hasegawa, Nagano, Fujino, Tanaka; Ueki.