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Tokyo: Japan women’s national team coach Norio Sasaki has warned his players to avoid complacency at all costs at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada where they are looking to claim back-to-back titles.

Played against the backdrop of the earthquake and tsunami which devastated huge swathes of Japan, Sasaki’s charges sensationally won the competition’s 2011 edition by beating the United States of America on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Nearly four years on and Japan find themselves in Group C for next year’s global extravaganza, with the East Asian powerhouse set to face Switzerland, Cameroon and Ecuador in a relatively innocuous looking group.

However, despite Japan being firm favourites to top the group and progress to the knockout phase, Sasaki has insisted that the current title holders cannot afford to be lulled into a false sense of security if they are to be crowned global champions once again.

“People say we are in the “heavenly group,” but strong teams tend to lose in such a group, as happened at the men’s FIFA World Cup (in Brazil). We will brace ourselves and try to win back-to-back titles, and fight hard in each of the upcoming matches,” Sasaki said recently.

Winning successive titles would see Japan emulate Germany’s historic double in 2003 and 2007, however Sasaki was quick to point out that being defending champions will create its own unique pressure at a competition where China, Korea Republic, Australia and Thailand are also flying the flag for Asia.

“It’s our first time at the World Cup under such pressure (to win again), but we will work on it as a team,” he said.

“Inspiring the Japanese with our performance is really our goal. We will build the team that can deliver once again,” he concluded.

Japan will open their campaign against Switzerland on June 9, before facing Cameroon and Ecuador on June 12 and 16 respectively.

Photo: AFP