Sunday, 30 January 2011

Japan Clinch Asian Cup in Heart-stopping Thriller

Japan rode their luck, somewhat, in this game to win their fourth Asian Cup title and seal a place in the Confederations Cup. A textbook volley by Sanfrecce's Tadanari Lee early in the second period of Extra Time, seeing a valiant effort by Australia end in heartbreak.

Australia proved worthy finalists, as they tested Japan more effectively than any of the the other teams they faced, and indeed should really have won this game if they had been able to finish off their moves. They had much the better of the game, but by the time Eiji Kawasahima had made his second brilliant stop at the feet of Harry Kewell in the second half, you felt it was never going to be their day. So it proved as a pin-point cross found Lee in acres of space, and he sent his perfectly struck volley arrowing into the net.

Grampus new boy, Jungo Fujimoto, starting his first game of the finals, had a poor game and was replaced by Daiki Iwamaasa early in the second half. Not surprisingly, he looked a bit off the pace, and had few opportunities to show his attacking quality. This was true of the whole Japan team, which was curiously subdued for much of the game. The crisp passing and probing runs that had highlighted their play in this tournament was missing and they clearly missed the spark provided by the injured Shinji Kagawa.

Other Views

Japan Times: Lee stunner gives Japan Asian Cup

Asahi News: Lee's strike secures title for Samurai Blue

Friday, 28 January 2011

Asian Cup Final: Japan v. Australia - Japan

The World Cup blog's take on the upcoming Japan vs Australia final.
Asian Cup Final: Japan v. Australia - Japan
The local media are making a big fuss about Shinji Kagawa's broken foot, but Fujimoto, Hosogai or Kashiwagi will all make perfectly good replacements.

Renaissance Naruto Resort

A great place for visitors from Nagoya to stay when coming to watch Keita, Shinta and Tomohiro playing for Vortis. Excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere. The missus and I are regular visitors here, even if I cannot drag her along to a Vortis game. :-) (Just avoid the summer season when the prices double.)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Japan Edge Korea to Advance to Asian Cup Final

A couple of controversial penalties, and another hard, combative, close game between Korea and Japan. This game had plenty of drama, controversy and passion. It was a cracking game, despite the best efforts of the referee to ruin it.

Japan eventually went through to the final after winning the penalty shootout 3-0, with Korea failing to convert any of the three kicks they had. Eiji Kawashima saved the first two, forcing the third kicker to miss in his effort to keep it away from the Japan keeper.

Japan Times: Japan reaches final

Friday, 21 January 2011

Japan Down Sad Qatar

Even with the help of 'home' ref, Qatar could not muster the composure to get past Japan in the first Asian Cup 1/4 final. A fighting display by Japan, saw them overcome the dismissal of Maya Yoshida to come back from 2-1 down to silence the home crowd and send Bruno Metsu's feisty charges crashing out of the tournament. The fighting spirit shown by Japan, along with the crisp passing the team has displayed in recent games, suggest that Zaccheroni may be able to take them to the next level. The passing still tends to look pretty without providing much penetration, but gives them more control of the game and with the likes of Endo and Honda in midfield, the extra time and space eventually pays dividends.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

All that oil money only fuels more doubts over Qatar | Lawrence Donegan | Football | The Guardian

"Money can't buy everything. This isn't an original proposition although proof of it sometimes comes in the most unexpected ways. Take the newly-minted revelation, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, that Qatar set aside £26.5m for PR and marketing last year as it sought to persuade Fifa that the 2022 World Cup should be staged in a desert nation the size of Glasgow." 

Read the full article at the link below.
All that oil money only fuels more doubts over Qatar | Lawrence Donegan | Football | The Guardian

Japan Crush Sorry Saudis

3-0 and Japan could have had even more. Saudi were cr*p and an embarrassment to the tourney.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Asian Cup 2011: Japan Appeal To AFC About Eiji Kawashima's Red Card Against Syria -

The JFA appealing a refs decision. Does this mean the J.League will also allow decisions to be reviewed, if there is a clear error? Probably not. They will just be embarrassed on Sunday Morning again, as usual.

Asian Cup 2011: Japan Appeal To AFC About Eiji Kawashima's Red Card Against Syria -

Chaos Rules in Qatar

Japan overcome a controversial penalty decision to ease past Syria in another game they should won easily. The Iranian referee overruled his lineman, who had flagged for offside, and adjudged that it was a Japanese player who had played the ball back. Replays are far less convincing, but Japan manager Zaccheroni seems to have agreed with the ref, saying that they linesman had been wrong. They both must have eagle-sharp eyes. Meanwhile. Ryoichi Maeda had another poor game, wasting several good chances to give Japan a more comfortable margin of victory. Fortunately, Daisuke Matsui and Yasuhito Endo were back to their best and helped ensure that Japan got the three points they deserved.
Reuters: Japan ride out penalty controversy to beat Syria

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Shinta Joins Keita & Tomo at Vortis

Young Nagoya midfielder Shinta Fukushima joins the ranks of former Grampus players in Tokushima. Jun Aoyama may have gone off to Urawa Reds, but his place in the squad has been taken by Fukushima. With Jungo Fujimoto joining the Grampus midfield this season, Shinta was going to find it hard to get regular playing time and this seems a good acquisition for the Naruto-based team.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Japan Snatch Draw against Jordan

In a game they should really have won quite comfortably, Japan struggled to a last-gasp draw in their opening game of the Asian Cup. Maya Yoshida, headed home the equaliser two minutes into the four minutes of added time. The former Grampus defender had already seen a first-half goal cruelly ruled out for offside (Maya wasn't but Matsui was), and had been the unlucky defender to get the touch that deflected the ball past Kawashima for the Jordan goal.

Shinji Kagawa, Tadanari Lee and Makoto Hasebe all had good chances to score but failed to do so. On the other hand, Jordan rarely threatened Kawashima's goal, apart from the deflected shot and a couple of chances when lax marking allowed them headers they should not have had.

So, the Year of the Rabbit has got off to familiar start. Japan struggling to make their superior possession and technique count against determined but ultimately outclassed opponents. The most worrying aspect was manager Zaccheroni's reaction, who spent much of the game looking like a rabbit caught in headlights. Not an encouraging sign that he will be able to lift the team and get them to earn the wins they should be getting against this sort of opponent. Japan will have to get past several such teams during the qualifying rounds for the next World Cup.

Japan Lineup
Eiji Kawashima
Atsuto Uchida, Yasuyuki Konno, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo
Shinji Kagawa, Yasuhito Endo, Makoto Hasebe, Daisuke Matsui (Shinji Okazaki 58')
Keisuke Honda (Fujimoto 90')
Ryoichi Maeda (Tadanari Lee HT)

Asahi News: Zac's Japan narrowly escapes defeat

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Ventforet Planning Quick Return to J2?

Vissel logo
Newly promoted Ventforet Kofu seem to be planning a quick return to J2. (Sorry, Ken.) They have signed Vissel defenders Daisuke Tomita and Teruaaki Kobayashi, who struggled to get into a team that only just avoided relegation by the skin of its teeth. (Of course, Yamanashi natives will be praying that Vissel's struggles were due to the pair's omission by former manager Miura.)

Takeuchi Loaned Out to JEF

Grampus central defender come wing back, Akira Takeuchi, has been loaned out to JEF United for a year. This should give him a better chance of getting regular first team football, but also suggests that Tatsuya Arai (currently in Spain training with Real Sociedad) is seen as a reasonable option as backup for Tulio, Masu, and Chiyotanda.

Official Grampus Press Release: 竹内彬選手、ジェフユナイテッド千葉へ期限付き移籍のお知らせ

Friday, 7 January 2011

Pedro Junior 'Lent' to Gasmen

Gamba's troubled Brazilian forward, currently on loan at SC Do Recif in Brazil, has been loaned out to FC Tokyo. This suggests that Gamba still has the right to decide where he plays and it is nice to see them allow him to try and resurect his career in Japan.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Josh to Miss Asian Cup

As expected, Aussie striker Josh Kennedy is set to miss the upcoming Asian Cup meaning that Grampus will have no players there, apart from former starlets Maya Yoshida and Keisuke Honda. This should mean that we have a reasonably fresh squad when the J.League kicks of on March 5th (provided Tulio, Josh, and Dani all get over their knocks).