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Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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Miyagi Stadium
miyagistadium.jpgMany supporters are wondering why the JFA insisted on using Miyagi Stadium for this week's NT encounter with Honduras. There has been a lot of grumbling, because Miyagi stadium is inconveniently located and access from the train station is a bit of a trek. The reason the JFA is insisting on using this stadium is that it is part of the Thank-You Plan. They want to thank all the regions that helped host the 2002 World Cup by making sure all the World Cup stadiums are visited by the National Team before next year's World Cup. It's true that otherwise the games tend to get concentrated in only a few of the top stadiums (like Saitama, Yokohama, etc) and that's no fun for the rest of the country.

The design of the roof (see pic above), which covers about two-thirds of the seating, was taken from the famous Sendai lord Date Masamune's headpiece/helmet decoration, the shape of a crescent moon.

The Bitter Taste of That Game

Anyway, Miyagi Stadium has a bit of bad mojo attached to it, as it was where Troussier Japan lost to Turkey in the last World Cup 1-0, ending their run at Best 16. It's common knowledge that there were three main themes that came out of this game, however, and I think that bitter experience has affected a lot of Zico's and this national team's thought processes -- in a good way. ...CONTINUES
Click to Read the Rest of this Entry [Miyagi Stadium]

J-League Buzz
Hayuma Tanaka was involved in an automobile accident yesterday. A number of news articles and blogs covered this news. He's one of Yokohama F Marinos' stars, and has had a tough summer. It's very unfortunate that the month had to start off so dismally for him. Apparently he hit an elderly man, who sustained quite a few injuries; the club said that Tanaka was still in shock and they will have to figure out what to do with him after they get all the facts. The police are investigating. For Marinos, who have been struggling with the league season, it will also be a shock to lose their crucial right side half/back as they try to keep hopes alive.

Oita Trinita just signed their new Brazilian manager Pericles Chamusca. Hwangbo Kan was axed last month for the team's failure to make any improvements in performance during the summer span. As I described in my Oita Trinita profile >>Click to read this entry Kan started off with a "attack first and worry about defense later" ambitious plan at the beginning of the season, but then soon changed his thinking to "defense first and aim for counter". Quite an about-face, but not much came of it.

Chamusca is thought to be quite the strategist and though only 39 has a resume filled with experiences at domestic clubs including his last post with Botafogo. He is also known to be effective with young players. Trinita's main goal will be to avoid relegation. Though Oita have a few dangerous offensive players, and their young goalie Nishikawa is a popular Youth member, there seems to be a lack of a clear team concept. I have a feeling Chamusca may be able to set a more concrete structure in place, but the issue may be time.

Omiya Ardija fans are placing their hopes on new signing Leandro. He is a 20 year old Brazilian national coming from Nacional and Sao Paul FC before that. He is best known for his success on the U-20 squad this year -- six goals in eight games. Omiya recently lost forward Christian, and I am happy to see they have decided to choose a different type from the power-forward Christian. And the fact that Leandro is rather young will be an unpredictable variable, as he could either blossom perfectly or get stuck in a frustrated rut (including the culture clash, the language barrier, and issues of maturity).
JOMO All-Stars Poll Update
This is what things looked like at the polls shortly before the deadline of September 3. Over 1.5 million people voted.

As for the scheduling problem I discussed previously >>Click to read entry, the JFA seems to be coming to some compromise with the J-league (as Zico has wished), saying that the All Stars game will have first priority, and those NT players involved will miss the NT game against Latvia. But there is some talk that these players may be able to fly to Europe after the All Stars game and join the team for the game against the Ukraine.

Sorimachi - Niigata Albirex
Nishino - Gamba Osaka
Yamamoto - Jubilo Iwata

Nishikawa - Oita Trinita
Nozawa - Niigata Albirex
Kawaguchi - Jubilo Iwata

Miyamoto - Gamba Osaka
Andreson Lima - Niigata Albirex
M Tanaka - Jubilo Iwata
A Miura - Vissel Kobe
Komano - Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Suzuki - Niigata Albirex
Fukunishi - Jubilo Iwata
Endo - Gamba Osaka
Nanami - Jubilo Iwata
Morisaki Kazu - Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Morisaki Koji - Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Oguro - Gamba Osaka
Nakayama - Jubilo Iwata
Edmilson - Niigata Albirex
Takamatsu - Oita Trinita
Magno Alves - Oita Trinita
Cullen - Jubilo Iwata


Osim - Jef Chiba
Buchwald - Urawa Reds
Okada - Yokohama F Marinos

Kushino - Jef Chiba
Doi - FC Tokyo
Sogahata - Kashima Antlers

Nakazawa - Yokohama F Marinos
Kaji - FC Tokyo
Matsuda - Yokohama F Marinos
Tulio - Urawa Reds
Tsuboi - Urawa Reds

Abe - Jef Chiba
Ogasawara - Kashima Antlers
Ishikawa - FC Tokyo
Hasebe - Urawa Reds
Mizuno - Jef Chiba
Konno - FC Tokyo

T.Tanaka - Urawa Reds
Tamada - Kashiwa Reysol
Maki - Jef Chiba
Suzuki - Kashima Antlers
Nagai - Urawa Reds
Haas - Jef Chiba
Some Photos: NT pre-Honduras practice
Click Photos to Enlarge.
Some shots taken during the Sept 5 practice game against J2 Sendai Youth team. Pics from Sponichi Plus. >>Click to read prior entry on this practice.

From top to bottom, Inamoto, Nakamura, and Kaji - Nakamura - HNakata on the bench.


Have J-Refs learned nothing?!
I meant to touch on this earlier, but had forgotten about it until today.

Uzbekistan and Bahrain are competing for the remaining 0.5 slot in the WC qualifiers. This week, in the first leg, Uzbekistan won 1-0, but all the talk was on the very very strange referee decision to make null a penalty awarded to Uzbekistan after some Uzbek players entered inside the box before the kicker had kicked.

This itself is not a big deal, as this happens. But then, the referee took away the PK altogether instead of letting the kicker retake the PK.

The referee was a Japanese ref.

Because of this one mess-up, the two countries will have to REDO the match. FIFA made the annoucement today. ...CONTINUES
Practice: NT vs. Sendai Youth
Before I crash for the night, just wanted to check in with a report of today's NT developments.

Atsu Miura (Vissel Kobe, who essentially is the back-up left side-half on the NT) had to pull out of training due to having inflammation problems with both achilles.

This was the first day of practice togethr. The team played a practice game against J2's Sendai Youth in 35 min halfs.

The starting formation looked like this:

------ Yanagisawa -- Takahara
------ Nakamura -- H Nakata
------ K Nakata -- Inamoto
Santos - Nakazawa - Miyamoto - Kaji
-------------- Narazaki

4 Goals: header from KNakata, HNakata volley, two from Takahara

---- Oguro -- Tamada
Santos - Ogasawara - Komano
---- Endo -- Fukunishi
Tsuboi - Moniwa - MTanaka

7 Goals: hattrick from Oguro, and an Ogasawara mid-range shot, Tamada right-footer, and the rest I'm not sure

The unifying theme seems to be Content, Balance, and Variation above all. The first half group played free-flowing football, where midfielders would go up and teammates would back them up by filling the empty areas until their return.

The second half group had the lion's share of goals, but usually when the NT plays against a practice team (usually Youth teams) the second half performance of the opponent drops some, and the NT usualy marks many more goals in the second half. But still, it's good to see that those who should score are scoring from this group as well.
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