I'll try to be brief, although there is so much to say about anyone. Kaihori 8 - she looked a little shaky at unsure at times during the first games, but she grew safer and safer until the glorious penalty shootout; she saved some goals but she also made some mistakes. She's the future but can become better (and I hope she knows). Kinga 7,5 - a constant push at the right wing, although overall she could've been more accurate both in her defensive placement and in her shoots; I am maybe too stern, because she's part of an impressive defensive block that I greatly admired and I guess she has to remain a permanent fixture of that block, but she was far from perfect. Iwashimizu 8 - in my opinion she's the real pillar of the defense: always calm and knowing what has to be done, mostly well-placed, never panicking, fair and seldom faulty, but never shunning from physical contact (I remember her getting a kick in the face during the New Zealand match and hardly blinking). I guess the famous Morgan's knockdown, during the last minute of extra-time in the final, somehow costed dearly to a correct player like her, but it had to be done and she did it. I also liked the way she peacefully accepted the obvious aftermath when she was sent out. Kumagai 7,5 - I am torn. I'd like to rate her higher, because of a million precious defensive actions (Germany and USA matches come to mind), where she also took advantage of her physical strength and height (not really compared to other team's players, but to her playmates: that's also one of the reason she's irreplacebale; Japan needs some phsycal presence anyway). I can't forget some slip-ups, though, that sometimes put Nadeshiko Japan in great danger. Let's face it: if we see her make mistakes it's because she plays every action, is always on her woman, has to mark the most dangerous opponents (I mean: ask somebody how easy can be marking Wambach); if she makes mistakes it's also because she plays a lot and she's always there where the game is. So I forgive her for her oversights, but I also state that she can get better at something (alertness, accuracy): she's still very young, she can do it. As an aside: I don't think she's very guilty for the final's goals: she tried her best with Morgan, but the American forward was too fast and found a very good timing for the shot; during the action of Wambach's goal, she had anticipated her with a header just an half-minute before and had kept controlling her: then she lost her for a second, she slipped when she had to impact the cross, and the goal was done, but I guess Wambach's coolness and merit were bigger than Saki's fault. In the overall rating of Saki's WWC, I guess the single moment of the final penalty can't be ignored: a great mental strength it's needed when you have to kick the deciding penalty with 120.000.000 japanese people sitting on your shoulders. Sameshima 7,5 - she didn't really "shine" (except maybe when her long-distance shot brought to Sawa's goal against Sweden), but she did a lot of work on the left wing, especially supporting the offensive game with runs and crosses. She was quite good at defending also, although it wasn't her original position in the past. All in all she was quite accurate, hard-fighting, well-playing, but she missed being really "brilliant". As an aside: I find quite hilarious her unmistakable standing position, with feet and knees looking inwards and her bum turned a little upwards. Sakaguchi 8 - I guess Mizuho is the unsung hero of this WWC. With her tackles and her balls salvaging, she played a key role in Nadeshiko's midfield, as the only real defensive midfielder in a team full of classy players. She fought and fought, humbly but strongly: if there was any other Italian, like me, in the forum, I'd mention "una vita da mediano" ("a centre half life"), a song dedicated to the obscure efforts of italian midfielder Gabriele Oriali, World champion with Italy in 1982... Sawa 10 - sorry, but this is due. It shouldn't even be discussed. She runs, she cuts the field in half with dream-assists, she scores like a champion, she creates like a divine star and defends like the most humble and tenacious player. She's everywhere in the pitch and she plays every role. But, if that's not enough, she's a real captain: never giving up, always inspiring her playmates, literally carrying a team to a World's Cup's win. I could still write volumes about her and what she did in this WWC, but it's not needed: i'll just mention that a goal like the Japan-USA equalizer is something I never ever saw before in a World's Cup final (and I didn't see often anything alike anyway) and I guess it would be worth a 10 rating alone. Miyama 9,5 - another player Japan can't do without. Her Majesty the Queen of corners, free kicks, penalties, crosses and finesse shots. Her harmony with Sawa is a match made in heaven, they could play together blindfolded and still score lots of goals, knowing by heart where the other one is. Beyond that, she's a warrior, she never gives up, and she's quick, cold-blooded and lethal like a snake, but with a lot more technique (I mean, if you think the goal in the final was just made by the american defenders' slip-up, try that shot with the outside of your foot while you're running). I also find incredible how she could think about respecting and soothing her opponents before celebrating (a sign that her way to celebrate her penalty wasn't for sure meant to be a mockery: it was just the gesture of a funny and amusing person like she is). What a great player, what a great woman. Kawasumi 7 - a great match against Sweden, she showed she was ready when needed and that's not an easy task for a substitute in a big tournament: you could happen to never play a minute, but you have to always be ready to play your best match if it's required from you. Nahomi was obviously ready. As it's been said, the final wasn't equally brilliant, so, although her contribution to the campaign was big in the semi-final, I guess she can't really be rated higher than that, given that she played so few games. Ando 7 - maybe the rating is generous. I guess she's a better player than we saw at WWC, where she was a little lackluster. She wasn't bad, her contribution to the fast-passing play of Japan was important, but she never really stood and I guess she was rightfully substituted in the final match. I'll throw a joke: we'll maybe remember her in this WWC more for the Kozukozu nickname, than for her real playing. Ohno 7 - I hate rating her so low, beacuse she's a fast, technical, great player, but I feel that, after a wonderful start with New Zealand (great assist to Nagasato) and Mexico (what a goal, what a goal! Four mexican defenders are probably still wondering what happened), she slowly died down, until, in the final, Norio ran out of faith and was quite forced to substitute her. Nagasato 7 - she deserves it for her early goal and for her resolve in the action that brought to Miyama's goal in the final, but there is no doubt she was the biggest disappointment of Nadeshiko Japan in this World campaign. Insubstantial, out of aim in shots, she was deservedly benched against Sweden and USA, and her lazy-looking mistake in the penalty shootout risked bringing the american players back in the match, despite their mental breakdown. Maruyama 7,5 - another woman from the bench who proved to be ready when needed. She earns an half more than Kawasumi in my book, because her beautiful goal was an unexpected decider and because I was impressed by her resolve, by the way she aggressively fought for every ball, also in the final. A never-give-up spirit that helped a lot: you can't exploit a Buehler's and Krieger's mistake if you don't press them and you don't make it happen. Iwabuchi 7 - in the few minutes she played in 3 or 4 matches, she always looked promising (she even classily and stubbornly conquered the free kick that Miyama turned into a goal against New Zealand), but she never really looked well tied into Nadeshiko Japan's overall play and she sometimes looked even a little immature for the big stage. Let's be clear: she's going to be a champion, she is a champion already as she showed at younger levels of play. But she didn't boomed yet at the senior National Team level. We all hope she'll do at London 2012 qualifiers and, hopefully, at London Olympics. Utsugi, Kamionobe, Tanaka and Takase played too few minutes to be rated, Yano, Yamago and Fukumoto didn't play at all. It's been said, although, that some of these players were important for the support they gave to the group (I distinctly remember, for instance, Kaihori thanking the other two goalkeepers for their support) Sasaki 9,5 - What I liked best about Norio was the sense of humanity that he showed. For sure i don't mean to bash on his tactical and technical skills (I'll make clear later that I find them extraordinary), but I guess his best feature is the relationship he built with his players (some of them were with him since the Under 20): he stressed the importance of knowing his own players one by one, to know exactly what anyone can give (and how and when), and he knew how to be be stern and serious or smiling and encouraging, or even joking, depending on the circumstances. He turned on its heels the cliché of the harsh and workhaolic asian coach, always tormenting the athletes, and chose a "fatherly" model, that paid in gold. I mean, when I saw the japanese players relaxed, laughing and smiling around him before the penalty shootout, while the american players were devoured by tension, I somehow knew Japan had already won. And, although he managed to keep his players calm and serene, he also made them give their all, by suggestingly evoking the disasters that hit back home. And, while doing so, he managed to give his players a sense of responsability without frightening them at the same time. He used tactics, yes, but he used psychology over all. I guess he and Sawa were the real guides of this team. After I said that, I can't help but add that I liked Sasaki's style of play: a solid, immovible defense, with two centers and two lateral defenders doubling as offensive wings, a midfield with a web of quick passes on the ground level, working on technique and capitalizing on his players strong points. He quite always chose the right starting team and knew how to change when he didn't. Well, ok, when you put Maruyama in and she scores the decider or when you start with Kawasumi and she scores two goals, there's also some luck involved, but his choices were always rational and he knew exactly how long he could put his trust in someone and when he had to stop. I liked his performance overall and I have faith that he'll keep his players with their feet on the ground for the qualifier tournament, because he knows how difficult it is and because he has great psychological skills. Phew!!! And I said I wanted to be brief! Well, at least let me know what you think about what I said! Let's discuss!!! ^__^ Or, if I just annoyed you, just plain tell me it!