Homare Sawa is slated to do what no one has ever done.
The 36-year-old Japanese star was named to her sixth World Cup roster on Friday, becoming the first person to need another hand to count their appearances.
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Three men — Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal, Germany’s Lothar Matthaeus and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon — and four other women have made five tournaments.
Sawa currently sits with Kristine Lilly (U.S.), Bente Nordby (Norway), Miraildes Maciel Mota ‘Formiga’ (Brazil), and Birgit Prinz (Germany) as women to appear in five World Cups.
Sawa’s appearances with Japan have been limited of late, creating some doubt that she would be a part of Japan coach Norio Sasaki’s plans this year. She did not travel with the team to the all-important Algarve Cup, an annual tournament that in World Cup years serves as a miniature tune-up to the main event.
Sasaki says Sawa earned her place back into the team.
“I haven’t picked her for experience alone,” Sasaki told reporters. “She’s been selected to make the team stronger and to bring more tactical awareness. I’ve seen her play for (club side) Kobe and she puts her body on the line, and is focused for the full 90 minutes. With Sawa’s essence added, the team becomes more powerful.”
Sawa has 196 caps, and has scored 82 goals for Japan. She netted the 117th minute equalizer against the United States in 2011 World Cup, a goal that sent the match to penalty kicks and Japan to the winner’s circle. Sawa was the top scorer in the tournament, and named its best player.
Japan is in Group C with Switzerland, Ecuador and Cameroon.