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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Japan Lambs Headed for a Slaughter?

Takeshi Okada has made his predictable choices for Japan's squad for South Africa 2010. Get the mint sauce ready, because this bunch will soon be roast lamb. Where were the bold, if rash, choices of his last World Cup failure at France '98, which saw him drop Kazu and take Shinji Ono instead. OK, he will get full marks from the ladies for adding former heartthrob Kawaguchi, rather than Sanfrecce's Nishikawa, as one of the goalies, but otherwise these are the same uninspired choices we have seen for game after disastrous game recently.

From a Grampus viewpoint, it is equally predictable, with all our key Japanese players making the squad. (Mu Kanazaki might have been a surprise choice, but suffered an unfortunately timed injury last week.) Tulio and Narazaki are among the few choices that fully deserve their selection, alongside Okazaki, Endo and Shunsuke Nakamura. Tamada is a safe choice, even if he has not been setting the J.League alight with his goals. He has proven he can hit the mark on the world stage and has been a vital player for Nagoya as the link between the midfield and Aussie striker Josh Kennedy. However, Japan's best hope of advancing from the group stages lie in the feet of former Grampus midfield maestro Keisuke Honda. The CSKA player needs to prove that he can fit in with the other players, especially Nakamura, but that seems to be the only hope of the manager avoiding another embarrassing World Cup exit.

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