Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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Generations of Youth: U-13 & U-20
I'm not sure many of you may know this (I certainly didn't have a clue), but for the past few weeks South Korea was hosting the U-13 World Championships tournament. "Under-thirteen" sounds so ridiculously young, but I guess you have to start young. And can we say, ADORABLE!

The strange thing was that we didn't really hear a peep about it til yesterday when the sports news segment announced that the Japanese U-13 team just won the championship -- in a final against South Africa, 2-0. They did show the goal clips, and they were actually very high quality approaches -- the first a long shot that hit the post on the inside but the ball was picked up by a teammate and slammed back in. The second came off a long dribbling approach on the left side, a cross to the far side post that was then pushed in. Anyway, it must have been such a blast for these kids, wearing the exact NT uniforms of their big brothers and representing their country.

As for the U-20 World Youth Championships, Japan is becoming known as the miracle team -- the first in tournie history to make it to the knockout stages without winning one single game (1 loss, 2 draws; total of 2 points). Not exactly something to write home about, but it's an opportunity that they should definitely take full advantage of. Their next game is against Morocco. If you have a chance to watch this game, keep an eye out for the forwards (Cullen, Morimoto, Maeda, Hirayama), plus Mizuno and Ienaga whose high quality crosses and kicks can often give Japan a new lease on life.
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