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Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
2005-07<<12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031>>2005-09 ←Navigate Entries with This Calendar
EAFF Cup Video Clips
Thanks to Nippon-Ganbare website, here are some clips from the Japan games in the EAFF Cup 2005 plus some old bonus files.

vs. North Korea Click the "free" button, then in the new page that opens click the Your Download Link.

vs. China Click the "free" button, then in the new page that opens click the Your Download Link. This China game may be of some interest for those of you who don't know many of the new/younger players used during this competition.

vs. Korea 1st half
vs. Korea 2nd half Click the "free" button, then in the new page that opens click the Your Download Link.

WC qualf vs. North Korea June 8 2005 Click the "free" button, then in the new page that opens click the Your Download Link. The clip subtitles what Zico and the players are overheard saying during the game, and they also show the interplay of the supporters standing outside the stadium gates.

and for those of you who missed or want to relive the Asia Cup 2004 quarterfinal PK Shootout against Jordan, here is a clip of the PK portion. Click the "Free" button, and then when the new page opens, click the Your Download Link.

and for those of you who are interested in watching the April 28 2004 game against Czech Republic, here is a link to the folder. You will have to download the six portions per half, and you will also need WinRAR (>>You can download WinRAR free) to extract the video from the download. Premiere periode=1st half, Deuxieme periode=2nd half.

JFA's Unusual Disclosure
Prior to his departure for Brazil after the last World Cup qualifying game against Iran, Japan National Team manager Zico expressed his desire to have as many of the European club players recalled for the September 9 match against Honduras. With the European season just starting this month, the concern was whether these internationals would be allowed out by their clubs. And certainly no one expected the unusal move by JFA when yesterday they announced that six of the Europe-based players were being called-up for the friendly.

With Zico still back in South America, JFA chairman Kawabuchi took the plunge and made it publicly known that these six players, Shunsuke Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakata, Junichi Inamoto, Koji Nakata, Naohiro Takahara, and Atsushi Yanagisawa, were included in the roster. Zico is expected back to Japan this week, in order to make the official full roster announcement on September 2.
J1 Round 21 Summary
Gamba Osaka 3-2 Yokohama F Marinos

Well, if you wanted to watch a match that kept things in the air from start to finish, this was the one to watch in this round. Yokohama were extremely solid, and their strategy to smother all of Gamba's space and ignition points worked. To be honest, I was rooting for Marinos, as they played such a great game; AND, for the twisted reason that if Gamba did win this game, they would come within a step of Kashima (who lost, but I'll get to that later)...hee hee. Anyway, my wishes did not come true.

Something must be in the water at the Marinos clubhouse; they play a good game, and then give it away at the end. But perhaps that is where the differences in mentality manifest itself. Gamba players had to endure a stubborn and focused visitor side, barely being able to touch the ball without being surrounded by a swarm of grey-jerseyed opponents. When Sakata scored off a quick restart, from a wonderful vertical kick from Magrao, I thought it was a well-deserved goal for Marinos who dominated.
Hirayama and Okubo's weekend
Heracles 2-1 Groningen

Sota Hirayama seems to be Heracles' lucky charm. His second game, and both times the team was able to come back a goal down in the first half to end with a win. In this game, Hirayama subbed in 3 minutes into the second half. His "goal" turned out to be off-sides, which was too bad, but his shot at 73 mins bounced out of the keeper's hands and allowed a teammate to volley in the rebound for the equalizer. After that Heracles won a penalty and got the second goal.

The >>Heracles website is a nonflashy but cozy one, not that I can understand much of it. But I've read some articles where Hirayama is described as being as "tall as a tree" Which is strange since the Heracles manager is even taller!

Mallorca 0-1 Deportivo

Mallorca did not do as well. Okubo's two good games last year were against Deportivo, so though the loss is bad I wasn't surpised that Okubo did quite well. I heard the local paper gave him the MVP for this game. Which is interesting since he took 0 shots at goal -- but from what I've read, the recently new Papa did a lot of contributing to the overall game for his team. But the state of the team wasn't in great shape to begin with, so hopefully they'll get their roster in order before too long.
Celtic 4-0 Dunfermline w/video clip
Addition: Here are a couple more highlight clips for this game.
>>Right-click to download video clip 1
>>Right-click to download video clip 2


I will come back with a review of this weekend's J1 games, but first quickly I'll post this entry of the Nakamura goal clip (below).

Coulda been a more technically better game from Celtic, especially in the first half. But with Shunsuke down low in midfield, it took him a while to warm up, find the rhythm, get some good forward feeds started, and sneak his way up. From the little I saw of the game, I liked Zurawski. He started in this game after a teammate was ruled out, and it turned out to be the luckiest thing. I liked how he burned up the left side, and his goal plus his assist to Nakamura for a goal showed great dribbling and cool-headedness. I think these two might have good chemistry.

Shunsuke's goal was an "easy" one, but he had been running a distance up from way back so kudos to him for staying active through the second half.

The most surprising event of the game, for Japanese fans, was seeing Shunsuke blow up a little when he got fouled at the beginning of the second half and the opponent player grabbed his arm while making a few verbal jabs. I don't think any of us have EVER seen Shun get like that on the pitch. And that post-goal "airplane" gesture we haven't seen in many years either.

>>Right-click and download video clip of Nakamura Goal here
New JFA Development Academy
I'm not sure how many of you are aware of this, but the Japanese football development structure was first designed on an American model. So, future footballer wanna-bes would have to get whatever training they could at their schools first, and then try and get into some of the J club youth teams before heading into a pro contract. This sort of made sense from a Japan culture point of view, but we've seen already that its too slow and vulnerable a plan, and this has delayed the development process in individual players. Not just the skills and such, but other things like maturity, independence and so forth. While European teenagers are already starting for top clubs in Europe, Japanese players are just getting their toe in on what it means to be a pro footballer.

jfadevprog.jpgIn a previous entry where I introduced the Japan NT coaching staff, I mentioned that Zico's brother and technical advisor Edu had tried to get an academy started of his own. But there were financial problems, and really it is a difficult thing to keep going with little help. And most of all, places like Okinawa, where some of Japan's most rhythmically gifted, outgoing, athletic personalities come from, doesn't even have a local league club where kids could get organized youth level training. The photo on the right is of Christopher Tatsuki Kinjo, one of Okinawa's best in the U-12 group.

Well, thank god, the JFA must have been on the same wavelength in recent years. This past month, 662 children from all over Japan applied for the chance to join the new JFA Academy Fukushima. Kids in the middle and high school level will be picked from the hundreds after a three tier evaluation process (boys and girls), and they will end up living in the Academy. Christopher, from the photo, showed up at the J-Village for the evaluation and selection process.

The kids will live in dormitories, train under JFA coaches on the Academy grounds (there is a pitch set aside for them), and attend the local schools for basic education. On top of that, they will also get additional educational electives like languages. I forget what the final acceptance numbers are, but I think it's something like 15 for boys. Not many, but I guess it's good to start with a smaller group and see how that goes before expanding.

The JFA feels that if Japan continues with the plan they had so far used for the past ten or so years, we will never catch up to international standards. They feel that in order to close the gap, the JFA will need to play a more active role in developing promising players, 24/7. Their aim is to be able to have 3 or 4 national team members come out of their Academy ten years down the road.

This Academy is modeled after France's National Football Academy, the one that Zidane and Henri have graduated from. The French academy is I think about 30 years old.

During the selection trials, the evaluators looked for potential and natural football sense. For instance, during the lifting test, they didn't look at how many times a candidate lifted without dropping the ball; but instead looked at the the style of lifting, whether the candidate had a natural soft relaxed touch with the ball. In the 50 meter dashes, they didn't look at just overall speed, but also evaluated running form. They had speed-reading machines at 10 meter intervals so they could see what the increment by increment speeds were, whether the candidate decelerated considerably in the final 10 meters, what the acceleration was like, and so on. And of course the kids played a game at the end, and evaluators looked at how well the candidates could express their strengths, intelligence and style during an actual game situation.

This is really exciting stuff, and could make a huge difference on the future if done properly. Things won't go perfectly smoothly, that's a given, but if something valuable can be gained in the process for the kids as well as the Academy people, it will be worth it.
From the old files... Nakata goal vs. Australia
I mentioned the Hide Nakata goal during the downpour game against Australia at Yokohama stadium in >>this entry.

I found a video clip of that scene, so if any of you feel nostalgic, you're welcome to >>Click here to watch clip. This clip probably won't stay up for very long, so if you happen on this entry later on this year and want to watch it, just contact me.
Treviso offer for Miyamoto
Gamba's Tsune Miyamoto received an offer from newly promoted Serie A club Treviso on the 26th, but the following day it was announced that Miyamoto was going to decline. The club are saying they will keep channels open for after the season. Miyamoto made his decision based on the timing, with Gamba having a great chance to get a championship this year, plus the NT preparing for the World Cup, it would be too much of a risk to throw all that aside and attempt something in Italy. And even if he had wanted to go, Gamba would have put their foot down.

I mentioned this before, but Treviso have also been interested in acquiring FC Tokyo's rightwing Nao Ishikawa. The Serie A club has one opening for a non-European player, and I guess they have been sniffing around to see who they can get from Japan. For a small team like them, the prospect of getting a popular Japanese player is appetizing. Even with the move of Sota Hirayama to Eredivisie's tiny club Heracles, the club has been basking/raving in the amount of attention this one Japanese player has attracted. And Hirayama is not a fraction the kind of star that Miyamoto or Ishikawa are in the Japanese football world. These two are very very very popular.

Ishikawa actually started taking Spanish lessons this spring, with an eye to getting some sort of offer from one of the Liga clubs. I'm not sure if a proper offer was made, or whether it was only an inquiry, but it is good motivation for J-league players who sometimes lose their way, their momentum, during the season (especially Ishikawa, whose club is in a big rut right now). And the more offers/inquiries they get, the better, as the experience itself is valuable for future guidance.
Zico Japan to Rendez-vous soon
Zico spent the last ten days in Brazil overseeing a Youth Friendly Cup competition between Japan and Brazil teams, but is expected back today. This friendly Cup included teams like CFZ Rio, Vasco, Guarani, Flamengo, America, Corinthians, Atletico Mineiro, Botafogoo, and Japanese teams like a J-league selection team, Kashima Antlers, and Kashima Norte. Both Kashima teams lost, against Flamengo and Fluminese, but the J-league selection team tied against Botafogo. >>Click to see some photos from Zico's blog

Zico will be heading to Miyagi to make the roster announcement ahead of the Honduras friendly on Sept 7.

If you live in Japan, want to watch an NT match, and are near enough (or willing enough) to trek over to the Miyagi Stadium, tickets are still available. This past week, JFA have been fretting over anemic ticket sales. Part of the problem could be that with the qualifiers over, people's gung-ho energy is a little low. Plus, with an opponent like Honduras, there is some ambivalence.

Of course, this was all before it was made public through some sports rag leaks (intentional or not, I can't say) that a number of European players are getting a heads-up regarding a possible call-up. We've heard that Nakamura's Celtic have already arranged a ticket for him to fly back to Japan after today's league game. And Takahara and Yanagisawa have gotten faxes saying they may be called, so get ready. Hide Nakata, I'm not so sure about, since he is not at full fitness and hasn't made it to the starting roster for Bolton yet, being brand new there. And Inamoto is just beginning to play for West Brom. Koji Nakata has also just begun to get a number of starts, so he may not get called to the NT either. But it may be the players themselves who desire most to get called-up, even for this one game. continues...
European Players Update
The Nakamura - Celtic Effect

celticshun.jpgShunsuke Nakamura's move to Celtic has been providing us with a number of firsts. The most appealing news is that Celtic may allow Shunsuke to leave Scotland on the 29th after their game with Dunfermline today, which means he will arrive in Japan eight days before the National team friendly against Honduras on Sept 7. Unheard-of, during his time at Reggina, where the club was always struggling and fought to keep Shun as long as possible so that he could contribute to the club. Of course, the roster announcement has not been made yet, but I know Zico truly wants to call up as many of the European players as possible -- he did say that it would depend on the players and their situation at their clubs, and we've heard that Dai Matsui or Yoshito Okubo won't be getting the call-up until the NT tour of East Europe (games scheduled in the beginning of Oct, against Latvia and the Ukraine). However, we did hear that Takahara's Hamburg and Yanagisawa's Messina did get a fax saying that these players may get a call-up. continues...
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