CHELSEA LADIES TO COMPETE IN JAPAN
Chelsea Ladies are to represent Europe at the International Women's Club Championship which starts in Japan at the end of the month.
Teams from around the world will descend on Okayama, Kagoshima and Tokyo for the second edition of the Mobcast Cup which runs from 30 November to 8 December. Chelsea Ladies enter at the semi-final stage.
The Blues will face either Australian League winners Sydney FC or Japanese League runner-up NTV Beleza in the last four; with Japanese Cup and League winners INAC Kobe Leonessa or South American side Colo Colo their potential final opponent.
An initiative of the Japanese Football Association, the Mobcast Cup has aspirations to build into a women's version of the Club World Cup, with European powerhouse Lyon claiming the first title in 2012.
Chelsea Ladies will be a major draw for the Japanese public with Women's Player of the Year nominee Yuki Ogimi (pictured) returning to her country to lead the Blues attack.
'It's an honour and a privilege that Chelsea Ladies have been invited to Japan to play in the IWCC 2013 tournament,' said manager Emma Hayes.
'The tournament will be a great opportunity to meet with our Japanese fans and build partnerships in the country.
'Having Yuki Ogimi, one of the best players in the world at our football club, will hopefully prove beneficial and she is looking forward to playing in front of the Japanese public.
'I have always admired the Japanese style of play and we hope this is the first of many trips to Japan.'
The trip to Japan will be the perfect opportunity for Hayes and assistant manager Paul Green to work with the squad as they continue to build towards the restart of the FA WSL, which will commence in April.
Chelsea Ladies will land in Japan with a strong squad, having added England international Rachel Williams to the ranks this week after she completed the switch from Birmingham City Ladies.
But the majority of eyes in Japan will be on Ogimi and the 26-year-old international striker can't wait to take to the field in a Chelsea shirt, having left her homeland to play in Europe over three years ago.
'I'm really happy to have the opportunity to take part in such a big tournament in my home country as a Chelsea Ladies player,' said Ogimi, who helped Japan win the 2011 World Cup in Germany and has over 100 caps to her name.
'I haven't had the chance to show my club level football in Japan since I moved to Europe although I have played many times for Japan, so it will be my first time playing with my European team mates in Japan.
'English football is very different to Japanese and all the players involved will learn from playing against each other and I know the trip will benefit Chelsea.'