Hinata Miyazawa scored twice as former champions Japan smashed Women’s World Cup newcomers Zambia 5-0 in a rampant start to their campaign on Saturday.
The free-flowing display was enough to prompt Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda to talk about his team challenging for the title in Australia and New Zealand.
Japan, who won the World Cup in 2011, was a class above the 77th-ranked Zambia, creating a slew of chances with their sharp movement and passing in a performance that will have the tournament heavyweights on alert.
Three of the goals came through sweeping up field movements as Japan scored more than twice in a World Cup game for the first time since the triumphant tournament in Germany 12 years ago.
“We have these players who have grown up seeing Japan become world champions,” he said.
“We would like to take up the challenge again to be champions.”