Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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Tids and Bits
Having trouble finding ample time to do any in-depth research on the week's Japan football news, but here are a few items that caught my eye:

FC Tokyo Ishikawa to Operate
ishikawa_9.20.05.jpgWe all were extremely worried about Lucas's head injury this past weekend during the Tokyo/Marinos game. The entire ordeal must have been a tremendous psychological shock to the team. Jean in tears with a bleeding head, Lucas lying dazed on the ground.

So it was an even greater disappointment to hear (as an FC Tokyo fan as well as a fan of the league) that Nao Ishikawa is also out. Just minutes before the Lucas/Jean collision, Nao went off the pitch when something happened to his knee/leg during play. The doctors have concluded that it is an injury to his right knee ligament, and he will need to operate. The surgery is scheduled for the beginning of October.

He has had a relatively unlucky year, not being able to find his groove. It is doubly painful to watch, as he is one of the sweetest personalities in the league. Everyone was really looking forward to see him lead the J-East attack in next month's Jomo All Stars game (he was MVP last year). Now he will be out of play for an unknown period of time. From what I could find out about these injuries, it looks ilke it might take him more than several months. Sniff!! I am truly disappointed, not just for us fans who were looking forward to seeing him play but also for him -- despite the awful news, he has been putting up a brave and cheerful face as he has done throughout his career (Pic of him today, at an interview).

Vissel Players On the Streets

Despite changing managers twice in the league season so far, Vissel Kobe has been finding it difficult to free themselves of bottom place in the rankings. It didn't help that their new captain Atsu Miura has been suffering from injuries to both achilles and has been unable to play for weeks.

It's not surprising that the club have had trouble keeping their fans -- and even more difficultly getting people to attend. So, the players hit the streets themselves, in an unusual marketing attempt to call out for people to attend the next game against Verdy. Along with about 30 staff workers and a bunch of supporters, about six players from the team went out on the streets and handed out fliers to people walking by in a Kobe market district. How's that for hands on?

Nelsinho No More

I mentioned it briefly during my round 24 summary, but it is quite disappointing to hear we won't be seeing Nagoya Grampus manager Nelsinho in the J-league anymore. He was let go this weekend, as a result of his team's performance this season.

Most supporters do feel the decision could not be helped (they do want to avoid any threat of relegation, afterall), but they did feel that the timing for the sacking was bad. There are only 10 games left in the season, and the supporters are worried about the psychological impact on the players to lose their manager at such a crucial time.

Part of Nelsinho's lack of success has been blamed on the fact that Nagoya as a club have not been able to solidify exactly what kind of club they want to be. Their personality was unclear, and the lack of vision led to problems getting a fitting team together in the off-season. They spent a lot of money on players -- Nagoya has the two most highly paid Japanese players in the league in Narazaki and Fujita. And they have beloved veterans like Akita, technically gifted ones like Nakamura, as well as spunky up and comers like Honda. Some supporters ay that Nelsinho was trying things that were too sophisticated for the team to do suddenly; some say he wasn't able to properly analyze opponents and come up with good strategies against different teams.

Don't Make me Blush

tsune_photobook.jpgClick photo to enlarge. For those of you who do not live in Japan, it may come as a surprise that the footballer most popular among women in Japan is Japan national team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto. Not Hide Nakata.

Well, it may depend on the sample you poll, but those that I have seen this year in various sports mags and tv programs show Miyamoto has clinched the number 1 spot. So it isn't entirely surprising that he is coming out with this Book of Photographs -- in Japan these types of photographic books are very common, and all types of famous people publish one, from comedians and musicians to idols, singers, athletes... pretty much anyone. And you don't have to be drop-dead gorgeous for these to sell. Just interesting with people who are willing to shell out Yen 3,500.

In Miyamoto's case, or "Tsune-sama" as the joke goes now, it is a mix of both -- the Gamba Osaka defender is popular among all ranges of women, but in particular among the 20-30-something group. People like that he is not only relatively attractive in the physical sense, but also his intellectual personality, his leadership at both club and national team, his fashion sense, and the degree of thought and eloquence he puts into his interviews. For this age group, I guess his overall polish makes him quite the hottie. [On a sidenote, Takashi Fukunishi is known to be quite popluar with the middle-aged ladies set! Though recently he is gaining in popularity over various age groups.]

A Break for Hayuma

Hayuma Tanaka, who got into a serious car accident a couple weeks ago, has been lucky. The elderly man he hit on September 5th was knocked around but nothing immediately threatening to his life. The police investigation came up with no blame for Tanaka -- the injured man apparently crossed the street where there was no pedestrian crossing and was unlucky not to be seen by Tanaka until it was too late. Not only that, Tanaka was initially determined to stay out of games until the man fully recovered -- but strong support from the injured man and his family convinced Marinos to let Hayuma back at the clubhouse and join in regular training.

Tanaka is also one player I really like as a person, and I had been really worried about the ramifications of this accident. Some people have said that the "punishment" to Tanaka was too little, that he should have been given more. But considering we all get into accidents no matter how careful we try to be -- and in this case it wasn't as if he was drinking or talking on the phone,etc. -- I think it's okay. Tanaka has expressed tremendous regret/remorse over the incident.
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