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Australia 3-1 Japan
An absolutely unforgivable turn of events.

All of you have seen the game, so I won't go into detail. But here are the highlights:

Kawaguchi saved us by barely a thread on numerous occasions.

The team was not playing nearly good enough.

The press was not working.

The team did not take the shots properly or failed to attempt shots at all.

The sides barely sent in any good crosses.

The team still has problems keeping the lead when they score fairly early in the game. It has occured often, they give up the lead towards the end. Sometimes they fight back at the last moment, but all in all, it feels like they are still shaky when they have the lead.

Tsuboi's early exit from the game (injury) was an unexpected disadvantage. It must feel surreal for Moniwa, who only a week or so ago was basking under the sun in Hawaii thinking his chance to be part of a WC squad had slipped through his fingers.

But most of all,

most of all,

and really I think this is the part that really makes me look back at this match with supreme irritation:

Zico's lack of logic in substitutions reared its ugly head.

In past games, the team was able to eke out wins despite the fact that Zico's player substitutions were very late or made for or with (what I believe) were inappropriate players.

I love this team, and I do believe in Zico's basic philosophy that Japan can only get better if they are given the opportunity to grow into a bigger pair of football boots.

However, the players were obviously exhausted in the last thirty minutes in the surprisingly high temperatures. And aside from the substitution made when Tsuboi was injured (I think he pulled his thigh muscle), Zico refused to budge. When he did make a move, way too late, it was to insert Ono for Yanagisawa.

No offense to Ono fans (because I love the guy), but he ain't the player to put in at a time like that. Not only is he hardly dynamic on defense, but he isn't particularly fast or strong. Inamoto should have gone it at the very least -- Ina being one of those scrappy players who times tackles and slides really well.

With only one forward left, it set the offense/defense balance off. And given the danger that Australia presented for most of the match, it was the wrong message to send.

When Zico did decide to put in a forward, it was Oguro with only 3 minutes remaining. Sure, Oguro has played the last-minute savior in a number of memorable matches, the odds that he could pull off another in this game with the team playing rather poorly -- well, that was unfair to expect of Oguro.

The team did not play well. But my irritation tonight is at Zico. He has always made it clear that his care for the players is utmost -- but there are times like tonight, when Nakamura was making mistakes (he passed to the Australian forwards near our penalty area), looked too tired to contribute to defense, and lacked quality on the few cross opportunities he got towards the end. It's true, Nakamura has the kind of one-chance magic that one would always like to keep on the pitch, but in general he should have been rested and would have not contributed to keeping the 1-0 lead towards the end.

I'm not sure I make any sense, but I have to go to sleep (early day tomorrow), so I will end here. I'd love to hear what you all thought about the game.

This puts Japan in an impossibly difficult situation going into the next two games -- Croatia are only going to be taller and even more rough on plays; and Brazil...well, is Brazil.

I'll post any follow up news between now and the Croatia game. I just hope I can pull myself out of bed tomorrow -- the depression is probably going to make me want to call in sick at work!
Comment On This Entry
goals,goals, long as you are Brazilian!!
I honestly think one of the problems in Japanese football is the over reliance on foriegners to do the job that cost Japan a decent run in the World Cup,ie score goals!! Virtually every J1 team has foriegn strikers (mainly Brazilian) and while these guys do a great job in entertaining the crowds with their exciting play,where are the up and coming Japanese strikers supposed to cut their teeth?? In the satelitte leagues or J2?? How is japan ever going to produce even one decent striker if they don`t get a chance in their own domestic league?? Why are the vast majority of foriegn players strikers?? Its almost as if Japan accepts that they will never be able to score goals so theyll leave the responsibility to someone else. Everybody should be shouting at the top of their lungs about this situation especially after the pathetic display just seen in Germany. Maybe its time for a new European style foriegner rule?? I know the rule is currently 3 foriegners on the field at once but how about an extension to include three foriegners but NO STRIKERS!! Completely impractical I know but something has to be done. At the moment there is a SEVERE lack of talent up front lets hope the next generation have a bit (not a bit a shed load more!!!)more to offer... Hiroyama,Cullen,Morimoto,Havenaar we will be waiting!!!
2006/06/24(土) 20:44:53 | URL | Nick #-[ Edit]
2006/06/23(金) 18:34:20 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/23(金) 18:30:48 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/23(金) 11:51:55 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/22(木) 21:05:45 | | #[ Edit]
oh dear!! more weather converstation.....maybe both teams should have played in the their swimming trunks with a plentiful supply of ice cream cones,deck chairs and flip flops!! Its Germany for heavens sake not the Sahara Desert!! Im pretty sure there arent any camels roaming wild in the forests of Bavaria!!No one speaks of the Bedoin tent people of Saxony!! As the earlier comment said,Japan lost because Yanagisawa is a donkey and missed a chance the average elementary school kid could knock in... unless the extreme temperatures melted half of his leg off causing him to try to kick it with his one remeining good leg,only to see it go back to where it came from!! New conspiracy theory.... Yanagisawa isn`t crap,he`s actually made of a weak sub standard plastic and melted in the "extreme heat" of Germany. Its a possibility! Anybody else got any conspiracy theories as to why he missed?? (Apart from the obvious...eeee-aaaaaww!!)
2006/06/21(水) 00:45:57 | URL | Nick #-[ Edit]
2006/06/20(火) 16:04:05 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/19(月) 11:04:16 | | #[ Edit]
Well a 0-0 draw with Croatia is a creditable result but I don`t think it tells the true story of the match.Japan started brightly I thought matching the bigger,stronger,more skillful Croatians. For the forst 20 minutes or so Japan played well but as time wore on the match turned more and more in Croatia`s favour. Chance after chance went begging for Croatia as they were guilty of missing a hatful by a combination of stellar goalkeeping by Kawaguchi and woefull finishing. Great seve from the penalty from Kawaguchi, Man Of The Match pefrormance from him I think most would agree. However the same old problems seemed to surface again and again, Croatia at times were able to slice through Japan "defence" at will moving from their own box to Japans box in seconds with alarming regularity. In contrast to this Japans laboured build up play was excriciatingly slow for the whole 90 minutes. How Croatia weren`t 3 or 4 goals to the good by half time was amazing!! The second half continued much like the first with Japan on the back foot for long periods. Chance after chance was going astray for Croatia until Yanagisawa missed the chance of the game,great ball in from the right,4 or five yards out with the goal at his mercy and the keeper nowhere he succeeded is getting his legs tangled up and scuffing the ball back from where it came......the man is a D-O-N-K-E-Y!! I hate to say it but so far I think Japans forwards have been the worst in the whole tournament. Can anyone remember a worthwhile attempt on goal by either Yanagisawa or Takahara over the course of the last two games?? Any chances that Japan have created have come from the midfield or the flanks.Japan need a miracle against Brazil and they arent gonna get it playing with 9 players,one donkey and a girl! I say stick Kawaguchi up front partnered by Asashoryu,Konishiki in goal and see what happens!! Its got to be better than whats up there at the moment and would definately guarantee some fear in the opposition!! C`mon Japan!! Lets get a decent performance in the last game!!
2006/06/19(月) 08:58:39 | URL | Nick #-[ Edit]
2006/06/17(土) 11:30:29 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/17(土) 10:34:32 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/16(金) 10:58:15 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/15(木) 23:50:26 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/15(木) 12:53:08 | | #[ Edit]
Throughout all of these comments I haven`t heard (as usual) ONE criticism of Nakata!!! Now,I know he is a hero in the eyes of most if not all Japanese fans but,was evrybody watching the same game i was watching?? The man had a stinker!! He was the worst player on the field.Inept in all departments.The amount of times he was caught in possesion and failed to fight back and get the ball back was a disgrace.Seemingly its ok for him to shout his mouth off about the limitations of the other players but the man should take a look in the mirror himself. He is in there on reputation alone because on the basis of his recent performances he couldn@t get in a J2 line up. Of course Zico would never sub the GoldenBoy.He wouldn`t dare. But by Christ if he`s in the starting line up against Croatia (which he will be) it will just go to show how weak Zico and the whole Japanese set up is. I know he is "potentially" Japans best player but man if he can`t even be bothered to tackle back in a WORLD CUP do or die game,then he doesn`t even deserve to cut up the half time oranges of people who would sweat blood to be on the pitch. Its gonna be tough viewing I feel in the next two games as if we have to put up with the same lilly livered performance then I feel there will be some broken TVs by the end of the group stages!! I can`t see any light at the end of the tunnel as if Yanagisawa is one of Japans best two strikers then we are in big trouble!! The man couldn`t hit a cows arse with a banjo from two yards. Pre tournament,the strikers were always going to be a worry as none of them can actually score.Yanagisawa can`t score in Italy,Takahara can`t score in Germany,Tamada can`t score in Japan (oh dear!!!) How the hell are they gonna score in the World Cup if they can`t even do it at domestic level.Overall,a sorry display by a team who literally just after all the debate and whys and wherefors are simply not good enough. The heat is not a factor to blame at all as its the same for both teams and Japanese summers are not exactly cold are they.So the players should be used to it!! Unfortunately Japan are crap and going home early.....and it really does pain me to have to say such a thing. A good World Cup, I was hoping would have a positive impact domestically getting more people interested in J-League and J-League players instead of focusing on European leagues and maybe bumping up the attendances a little.I hoped if the general non footy fans saw the Japanese boys playing their hearts out and competing with the big boys it could provide a groundswell of people wanting to see live football.It doesn`t look like this is going to happen which is sad. C`mon Japan!!!! At least give a fight worthy of the nick name "Blue Samurai" I haven`t seen anything anywhere near it yet.
2006/06/15(木) 08:04:31 | URL | Nick #-[ Edit]
2006/06/14(水) 16:01:04 | | #[ Edit]
I don't see why Zico is continuously using Yanagisawa where his not even that good, there were several occasions where he should of scored and missed and also where he should of just went by himself he tried to pass it and lost it by the Australian defenders..this applied to Takahara aswell.

They should have used a more "determined" player like Tamada in that game rather than Yanagisawa who keeps on falling down and can't shoot.

It is exciting to see what Zico does when Japan plays Croatia, hopefully Kaji will be back^^ (KOMANO IS NO GOOD...cannot cross for cr*p)
2006/06/14(水) 14:55:16 | URL | Nak #-[ Edit]
2006/06/13(火) 17:39:48 | | #[ Edit]
2006/06/13(火) 09:02:49 | | #[ Edit]
Coach and players' quotes.
We did not do anything after taking the lead, but we had two clear scoring chances on the counterattack. However, if you do not put the ball in at one end, you sometimes concede a goal at the other. The way Australia turned the game on its head is hard to take.
Australia switched their formation to three up front and we could not win any second balls. I put (Shinji) Ono on in the second half thinking the trio of (Hidetoshi) Nakata, (Shunsuke) Nakamura and Ono could be effective but it did not work out.
We wasted a great opportunity. We had our chances but it was so hot today, which didn't help. It was 38 degrees but we lost concentration at a critical point and it cost us.

Yoshikatsu KAWAGUCHI (JPN)
I'm still in shock after what happened during this match. We played great, we led for so long and yet we ended up being beaten. I'm lost for words. The mood of the team is at rock bottom after this defeat. It was very hot today, but that just meant that both teams had to work hard. I have to congratulate Tim Cahill as well, as he was brilliant and turned the match on its head. Now we absolutely have to win against Croatia.

Tsuneyasu MIYAMOTO (JPN)
It's unbelievable. I'm in shock. When they equalised, the whole team got together and said that we had to make sure that we at least got a point out of the match. And then we let two goals in and came away empty-handed. I'm really disappointed.

Alessandro SANTOS (JPN)
Until they equalised, we were completely focused, and then for some reason we just collapsed. I really don’t know what happened.

After (Keisuke) Tsuboi went off, I got the impression that the Australians had a lot more chances. We really missed him out on the pitch. It was a real pity that we lost. I don't know what to say.

I'm really disappointed. We really shouldn’t have lost. Words fail me.

I'm speechless too.. :(
2006/06/13(火) 04:41:59 | URL | Otto #-[ Edit]
2006/06/13(火) 03:40:16 | | #[ Edit]
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