Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
2012-04<<12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031>>2012-06 ←Navigate Entries with This Calendar
Time to Get Silly
If you want to see what a Japanese football player who doesn't normally drink alcohol looks and sounds like when they are...Look no further! Here is Shinji Kagawa guzzling down beer a few weeks ago after beating Bayern for the Cup, being interviewed by his closest friend at Dortmund, Kevin Großkreutz. The celebrations were apt for Kagawa, who contributed with one goal and one assist under the interested eye of Sir Alex Ferguson. >>View Video
A couple weeks ago Kagawa also appeared on the pitcher's mound at Tokyo Dome to throw the first ball of the game -- he has long been a Yomiuri Giants baseball fan, and said it was a dream come true. Let's just say we're lucky he's a better footballer than he is a pitcher! >>See video

Ryo Miyaichi Playing with his Pants Since cementing his place in Zaccheroni's starting squad at Asia Cup 2011, vvv Venlo centerback Maya Yoshida has also become quite famous for his natural ability to entertain the masses. His very amusing and charming personal blog has been so popular that a book has been published on its contents. His proximity to friends and fellow-National team squad mates in Europe, like Uchida, Kawashima, Kagawa, etc., have also allowed him to be the social reporter to their off-the-pitch adventures, illustrating his activities with lots of comical photos. He has set the tone for his teammates, and they often poke fun at each other through their blogs and photos.
>>Maya Yoshida blog

Young Ryo Miyaichi somehow gets manipulated into posing for this shot -- if you can't see clearly, click for the big picture. Some of the players on the squad like to take walks around their hotel neighborhood during their National call-ups, and have taken some fun pics and vids of their walks around cities in Asia and the Middle East.

Another summer is here, and another awkward-looking tourism advertisement for Inter players -- this year, Yuto Nagatomo looks like a 13-year old riding his bike to school. An unfortunate choice of a backpack... (click to enlarge)
Inter summer training camp


One Week and Counting
Japan vs. Azerbaijan

Zaccheroni's request for a practice game in preparation for the start of the WCQualifying round was answered with a last-minute Friendly scheduled vs Azerbaijan on May 23. After sinking against North Korea and Uzbekistan in the previous Qualifying round, Zaccheroni has been particularly concerned with the condition of the Europe-based players -- who make up 90% of his starting squad and more than 50% of his roster.

The occasion marked the return of Keisuke Honda to the full squad after 8 months absence in and out of injury. Three players also debuted in this game -- 25-yr old FC Tokyo midfielder, Hideto Takahashi; the 22-year old sideback now top-listed by clubs around the world, Hiroyuki Sakai; and the 19 year old Arsene Wenger discovery and already-superadored Ryo Miyaichi.

Highlights Japan 2-0 Azerbaijan (Friendly)
First Half
Second Half

So, what have the squad been doing since? Domestic players were returned to their respective clubs for league duties, and the 12 Europe-based players remained with Zaccheroni after a day off to work on their conditioning.

Yesterday, the 3rd day of camp, the European players had a practice match against Urawa club youth teams. With Yoshida delayed with Venlo duties, Hasebe and Hosogai filled in as a centerback with Honda in defensive midfield. Though no one believes this in any way reflects what Zac has in store for Oman, it still would have been fun to see.

Domestic players also returned to Zac yesterday, spending the day on light exercise and avoiding any full-on practice.

News Video of Japan Squad on 3rd Day of Camp

Remember, you can also see raw footage of National Team camp training at >>Samurai Blue TV (the official JFA portal for great photos and videos of training, interviews). They've updated with footage from yesterday's session -- you can see Zaccheroni playfully shoving Kagawa off the ball, and the other players as they go through their exercises. Click on the thumbnails listed along with dates to launch video.

Did you know?

Since arriving in Japan, Alberto Zaccheroni has continued to show a great sensitivity towards the country and supporters. His style has particularly suited Japanese culture, and his affinity for Japanese food and his interest in facets of the country outside of football has won him a lot of appreciation.

One thing this Japan National Team coach has done that others have not is to publish "letters" regularly throughout the year. These are presented as the "Il Mio Giappone" series, and it gives Zaccheroni a way to communicate directly with interested supporters. In them, he introduces a wide variety of topics, from how Italians spend their summers to how he appreciates the way Japanese people give him his privacy when he rides the subway, to his thoughts when visiting his players at their respective clubs around Europe, to what he witnessed while viewing J-league games. It is insightful and very interesting.

Only the Japanese translation is available right now, but if you can read Japanese a little, I recommend looking through the archived articles. >>Il Mio Giappone
So Long, Toulon. (U-23)
Japan bid farewell to Toulon, after a very bumpy and strange week.

Toulon Higashi loss
It was a prime chance for coach Sekizuka to really see some of the Europe-based players (those, of course, who were not already tapped for Zaccheroni's WCQ squad) and to assess the squad as a whole.

One thing is clear -- this team definitely cannot win without the Europe-based players. Takagi, G.Sakai and Usami in particular showed a clear superiority in vision and confidence. Ibusuki, and Otsu also provide their respective strengths, though they are not as fully formed. Whether Sekizuka can or will call up Miyaichi, Kagawa, H.Sakai, and Kiyotake, to form a truly last-minute untested squad for London, I can't say. Something needs to be done about defense as well. Probably best way to use Over Age slots is with defenders.

For those who missed the Toulon group round games, here are some great links to proper highlights from the three games -- vs. Turkey, Netherlands, and Egypt.

0-2 vs. Turkey
3-2 vs. Netherlands (no, it's not a typo)
2-3 vs. Egypt: Usami goal 1, Usami goal 2
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