COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Kosuke Kimura is working hard to earn his way onto the Japanese national team, just as he gains inspiration from the performance of the Japanese women’s national team in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
Kimura revealed Thursday that he is now in the official player pool for the Japanese national team and that scouts for the Samurai Blue are due to watch him in a Colorado Rapids shirt at some point in July for possible inclusion in a friendly next month against South Korea.
The right back, who has started every Rapids game this season, said the selectors may already have watched him or they may even be in Seattle for the Rapids’ game against the Sounders on Saturday (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
“My name’s out there,” he said. "It’s a little bit of pressure for me, but I’m excited."
Once the pressure of the Saturday afternoon game is over, Kimura said he is looking forward to watching the Japanese women play against their US counterparts in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday. He believes the Japanese can win by playing a possession game and through their incredible work rate.
“They’ve been doing really good in the last couple of years,” he said. “I think they play one of the best soccer [styles] out there. They try to keep the ball, they possess the ball. They are very patient with the ball. Those girls, everybody on the field, they work so hard, they never give up.”
The Rapids defender acknowledged the greater athleticism and physicality of the American women and warned that Japan will have to be very organized at the back. At this stage, though, it’s anyone’s game.
“At this point, both teams are confident and you don’t know what’s going to happen in the final,” he said. “They can win. They just need to keep possession, what they are good at. These girls can run all day. Our strength is everybody working hard.”
The outstanding performances of the Japanese women, who have beaten pre-tournament favorites and host nation Germany and Sweden en route to the final, have attracted a lot of attention back in Japan, Kimura said. Their achievements may be even more extraordinary given reports they have been limited in the training they have been able to do in their home country due to the earthquake damage.
“I know all my friends back home are excited,” Kimura said. “All they have to do is believe in themselves. After all, they did beat Germany and Sweden.”
One key player in Sunday’s final will continue to be captain Homare Sawa, a player Kimura met in Washington, D.C., when she was playing professionally there.
She’s a really good player,” Kimura said. “She’s got such good experience and she brings that to the table. All the other girls learn from her.”