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Fukushima Training Camp Days 1-3
The entire squad is finally together, now that stragglers Oguro, Takahara, and Koji Nakata have joined up yesterday.

I will try and start populating the table in the previous entry very soon (Sunday night), so please check back later on. Right now I thought I'd catch us all up on what's going on at the National Team training camp.

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Day 1: The players were kept away from balls, and spent the day running running and running. The problem right now as far as conditioning goes is that because we have the J-league group still in mid-season and the European group at the end of the season, everyone is not at the same fitness level. So the first aim for the fitness coach (Satouchi) was to try and get everyone on the same page.

The European group like Nakamura, Hide Nakata, and Inamoto agreed it was better to let their bodies completely rest before the camp, and then build up once training started. The J-league group have just finished a bunch of games (plus the Kirin Cup games last week), so we saw some problems with players like Doi (who strained a leg muscle yesterday), Santos (who slightly injured his knee), and Ogasawara (who had an upset stomach and couldn't eat on day 1). Ogasawara was back with the group yesterday, and should be ok. Yanagisawa showed up from Day 1, and did not show any indication of his past foot injury.

The point of keeping the players away from the ball on this first day was to make them miss kicking the ball around. Get them hungry to use the ball.

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Day 2: The psychological trick of keeping the players away from the ball seemed to work quite well when the players were finally allowed to use the ball for fitness drills on Day 2. There were a lot of smiling faces, and everyone looked like they were enjoying the hard training.

The crowds at the J-Village complex where the team is staying has been attracting crowds of up to three thousand people each day. We saw the players handling themselves in different ways under the fans' scrutiny -- some players responding with a wave when fans called out to them, some players concentrating on running and not getting distracted.

The players were also doing some light weight exercises as well this day.

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Day 3: Today, things got even more interesting for the players, as in the afternoon they played a mini-game (8vs8, 4vs4) using a portion of the pitch, to practice real-game situations. (The morning was spent doing dashes and interval running.) I'm not sure how accurate the numbers are, but I read in today's sports paper that thirteen thousand people (because today is a Saturday/weekend) showed up to catch a glimpse of the team in practice.

During the mini-game practice, we saw many of the players talking amongst themselves to clear up small details in offense and defense. In the center of it all was of course Hide Nakata, who went out of his way to give advice to some of the especially newer/younger members like Maki. Though the players are only just getting their fitness into order, there was a lot of very good aggressive playing during the mini-game, and lots of active discussion among the members.

Koji Nakata, Takahara, Oguro and Santos (who is still caring after some strain in his right thigh) practiced separately; and Kawaguchi is apparently having some pain in his left achilles tendon, which is worrying.
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