BOCHUM (AFP) - Japan will be looking to hit hard as they open their bid for Asia's first women's World Cup title with a Group B clash against rivals New Zealand here on Monday (today). As China, who lost to the United States in the 1999 final, failed to make it to the World Cup finals for the first time Asian hopes are lying with Japan and North Korea. And the fourth-ranked Japanese, the group's top seeds, are favourites against the 24th-ranked New Zealand Ferns who have failed to win a match in their two previous World Cup appearances in 1991 and 2007. Japan, nicknamed the Nadeshiko, a pink flower symbolising the grace and beauty of the ideal Japanese woman, are no shrinking violets having played in all five previous World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 1995. But Japan coach Norio Sasaki remains wary of their Kiwi opponents. "The opening match will be important regardless of whom we fight. "New Zealand are a team that make up for their lack of techniques with power and speed," said Sasaki, who also has an eye on forthcoming group games against Mexico on July 1 and England on July 5. Captain Homare Sawa is conviced her side have the potential to medal after narrowly missing out at the Beijing Olympics and claiming their first Asian Games title last year. "I feel the time has come. We will work hard and aim high," said the 32-year-old Sawa, Japan's most-capped female player. Forward Yuki Nagasato added: "Whether we can score a goal or not that's the key. I will be hungry in aiming for goals."