Japan’s Miu Goto Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Women Softball Asia Cup 2023 has set sights on the Women’s World Cup title in Italy next year.
Some may say she is ambitious, but the 22-year-old professional player with Toyata said that she is setting a lofty target, but she feels that Japan have a chance having won the Tokyo Olympics gold medal, said Miu who is among the four Olympics players still in the current team.
The others in the team here in Icheon, Korea, whowere among the victorious Olympic team were – catcher Haruka Agatsuma, infielders Hitomi Kawabata and Minori Naito.
A fifth member of the glorious Olympic team here is Eri Yamada, the assistant coach to Japan’s head coach Reika Utsugi.
“Having won them Olympic medal, it is only natural that I eye the World Cup gold medal.
“I am aware that we will be up against much tougher opponents and first have to qualify for the World Cup final stage from the Group stages in July.”
Japan as champion, together with the second, third and fourth placed teams of the Asia Cup here have qualified to the XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup Group Stage in July in Europe.
China, Chinese Taipei and Philippines and Japan, after the completion of the round robin fixtures which ended Friday afternoon, qualified.
Japan are in Group C to play in Italy (host), with Canada, New Zealand, Venezuela, a Wild Card for Asia(fourth placed team – Philippines , in the Group stage.
The 12 other nations who qualified for the World Cup Group Stage and allocated in their respective groups are as follows:
- Group A: Ireland (host), Australia, Botswana, Great Britain, USA and Asia 3 (third qualified team – CHINESE TAPEI).
- Group B: Spain (host), Cuba, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Africa and Asia 2 (second qualifiedteam – CHINA).
Ireland and Spain have received each a Wild Card as hosts of a group stage, while the third Wild Card was for Asia.
The WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup will start with Group A in Dublin and Fingal, Ireland, from 11-15 July; followed by Group B in Valencia, Spain, from 18-22 July; and Group C in Castions di Strada and Buttrio, Italy, from 22-26 July.
The top two teams from each group of the Group Stage, plus two Wild Cards, will advance to the eight-team World Cup Finals 2024 in Italy.
It is indeed a tall order and process to be in the World Cup proper next year, but Miu believes in her team.
“We have mixed team, which is young and have experienced players too. I believe this team has what it takes to reach the final.”
On her winning the MVP award, she said she expected it because Japan emerged champions.
“However, it is the first time that I have won a MVP award since I have been playing for ten years now,” said Mui.
“I am really excited to have won the award personally and also proud for the team to have won another award besides winning the trophy.”
Mui was also named in the Asia All Stars Team at the farewell and award dinner last night.
The other players named in the Asia All Star Team are:
1st Base: Minori Naito (Japan); 2nd Base:Lin Feng-Chin (Chinese Taipei); 3rd Base: Yui Sakamoto (Japan); Short Stop: Kanna Kudo (Japan); Centrefield: Chen Jia(China); Right field: Alaiza Talisik (Philippines); Catcher: Lin Szu-Shih (Chinese Taipei); Left -hand pitcher: Miu Goto (Japan); Right hand pitcher: Chai Yinan(China); DP: Risa Kawamura (Japan).
The top three placed teams- Japan, China and Chinese Taipei – were also presented their medals.
The night besides the sumptuous dinner, saw all the teams given performances, including the Umpire an ITO group.
Softball Asia president and WBTC secretary-general, Datuk Low Beng Choo and Korea baseball Softball Association (KBSA) president, Lee Chong Hoon, who is also the WBSC Softball Division member at large, delivered their addresses at the dinner.
Low in her speech, also reminded the four teams who have qualified for the World Cup first stagein July, that it is going to be tough competition at the World Cup.
In the same breath she said that it was her hope to see all four teams make the final round of the World Cup comprising eight teams.
It was indeed grand night for the tournament and Softball Asia and Low thanked Lee and his team for making it happen in Incheon.