Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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FJLIT Video Vortex: Week Ending Jan. 28, 2012
Ok, Next Do It Through a Hurtling Train: The video clip of Shunsuke Nakamura's bending free kick through a moving bus aired on a Japanese New Year's variety program and quickly found its way to being viewed and mentioned by people from around the globe. The ex-Bhoy has still got it! Here's a clip of Shun's beauty during Confederations Cup 2003 against France. Most overseas football fans may remember him most for his home and away double against Van der Sar in the Champions League, but since Japan's playing France later on this year I thought this might be more timely.

What's That You Say? You Thought I'd Forgotten How to Score Goals?: Shinji Kagawa scores two for BVB Dortmund in the 3-1 win over Hoffenheim, goals number five and number six for him this season. Despite high praise following his slinky and creative performance last Round, Kagawa has been struggling to find the right balance between feeding the passes and aiming for goal. This clip of his two assists against Wolfsburg in Round 12 (watch from 7m12sec) displays that attractive ease with which Dortmund can play when the team is jelling.

I Know Kung-Fu: Hajime Hosogai may be from Japan, but his assist for teammate Stephen Hain's equalizer against Kaiserslautern had a bit of the Jackie Chan flair. His FC Augsburg side are clearly heading for relegation danger as they have only won 3 games in 19 rounds.

Just Kick It To My Head: Mike Havenaar kept some hope alive when he scored his first Eredivisie goal of his life in the 83rd minute against top side PSV. He was substituted in just minutes prior. His post-match interview was a delightful study of how bi- and tri-linguals weave in and out of different languages, especially when they are not completely comfortable in one or the other. Yes, Mike is tall. He's definitely tall for a Japanese player, but he's even tall for the Dutch. (This reminds me of the story his Vitesse teammate Michihiro Yasuda once shared about toilets in the Netherlands being too high for comfortable usage by leg-length-challenged individuals like him... but I digress.)

Naoki Friends Memorial Match Jan 22 2012
What He's Left Behind: The memorial match (click for digest program in Japanese) for ex-Marinos, Matsumoto Yamaga and International defender Naoki Matsuda brought bittersweet memories to the crowds that gathered at the Yokohama pitch for one final goodbye. Team Marinos (where the charismatic number 3 played for 15 years) played against Team Naoki Friends. It was a star-studded affair with the who's who of Yokohama and national teams of days gone by. Former National team manager Phillipe Troussier, who had a special relationship with Matsuda, returned as did Hidetoshi Nakata and others from 02 World Cup squad. For more footage of the event, you can check these additional clips.

Matsu died suddenly of heart failure during training in August 2011 at the age of 34. He was a real no-frills footballer and a guy's guy with none of the pretensions that may breed among those with a successful pro career, and was often cited as one of the few people who could truly argue with Hide Nakata on equal terms.
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