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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Group E - Japan

Nickname – Samurai Blue; Sakkā; Nippon Daihyo

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

Qualifying Round three and Japan tops the group to advance to the final round where they would meet Australia and convincingly both went through. Japan was 2nd of the group where they won 4 times, drew 3 matches and only lost once. Shunsuke Nakamura shown that he is still there for the national team scoring twice and providing a lot more to secure the spot in the World Cup.

H2H

Jun 14 Bloemfontein Japan v Cameroon - Tough task for Cameroon ahead of the first match against Japan. Les Lions Indomables never scored against Japan and never won against them.

Jun 19 Durban Netherlands v Japan - The only match played between both nations happened last year when Netherlands defeated Japan by a prominent 3-0.

Jun 24 Rustenburg Denmark v Japan - 3-2 and 1-6 defines the victories from Denmark in the only two matches played against Japan. Those were about friendly games and Japan might have something to say in this Group E.

Goalkeepers: Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata)

Defenders: Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama Marinos), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers)

Midfielders: Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama Marinos), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Junichi Inamoto (Kawasaki Frontale), Yuki Abe (Urawa Red Diamonds), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg, Germany), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble, France)

Strikers: Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Yasuhito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania, Italy).

FORMATION

Takeshi Okada will play an incisive full zonal marking 4-5-1 with potential attacking strategy surrounding Nakamura. Narazaki; Nakazawa, Marcus Tanaka, Atsuto Uchida, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo, Shunsuke Nakamura, Okazaki, Tamada; Honda.

BEST PLAYERS

Keisuke Honda is the pearl of Japanese football that plays for CSKA Moscow. In spite of being a central midfielder he had 24 matches & went to score 10 goals and assist in 3. This 23 year old playmaker is the natural replacement of 32 year old Nakamura that is approaching retirement. He has a unique individual technique that due to his age sometimes feeds too much his ego making him to perform more on his own rather than play for the group; but that might be about to change in the upcoming World Cup. Keizer Keizuke has been dubbed for his comparable skills to Namakura regarding dead ball situations, strong vision, passing-wise and his rocket shot in acceleration mode.

History has shown that gifted players mostly are left footed. Shunsuke Nakamura is just another positive case that adds to those stats. He collected individual accolades like water. The highly regarded info we spoke about Honda reflects the playing career of most notable player since Nakata and that is Nakamura. A creative midfielder that is like a Zidane for Japan, organizing and dictating the tempo of the match; he is second to none when striking free kicks and is emotionally strong, capability that most stars have not and often need when perform especially under pressure.

SURPRISE

The surprise omission is the Japanese footballer of the year Mitsuo Ogasawara from J-League Kashima Antlers.

STATEMENTS

"We are not going to change our tactics because when I set this team's basic tactical approach, it was already done with a view to winning against the world's biggest teams. Our main target in South Africa is to reach the semi-finals." Japan coach Takeshi Okada

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- Takeshi Okada –

2 Kirin Cup - 2008, 2009;

Career made of 114 matches with 43% Win, 31% Draw, 26% Loss, GS 1,48 GA 1,08

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strength – Having a striker like Okazaki that stroke 15 goals in 16 matches is definitely a strong point. Adding the ability of Honda and Nakamura on dead ball situations will increase Japan’s chances, because in a more contemporary approach set pieces decide most games. Never to have lost a match against Cameroon.

Weaknesses – Focus on one or two individuals might be costly for a nation that aims to reach the semi-finals according to Okada’s own words. Lack of consistency in their strategic approach. They play well against lower seeded teams but when they get tougher opposition above them in the ranks they underperform. From the last 10 matches they managed not to score in 5 of those (3 of the opponents are World Cup seeded – South Africa, Serbia, South Korea).

Opportunities –Getting a win in the first day against Cameroon and drawing against Denmark in the last match. These combined results would guarantee them a place in the second round even though this might be an unlike scenario.

Threats – Eto’o turning into a Lion indomable and trash Japan knocking them off competition straight away in the first day.

FIFA WORLD RANKINGS

Japan is the number 45 ahead of fellow Asian South Korea and are behind of Honduras and Slovakia.

ACHIEVEMENTS

3 AFC Asian Cups – 1992, 2000, 2004;

2 Afro-Asian Cup of Nations – 1993, 2007.

CASTROL INDEX

LATEST 10 MATCHES

Japan 5 0 Togo

South Africa 0 0 Japan

Hong Kong 0 4 Japan

Yemen 2 3 Japan

Japan 0 0 Venezuela

Japan 0 0 China

Japan 3 0 Hong Kong

Japan 1 3 South Korea

Japan 2 0 Bahrain

Japan 0 3 Serbia

Japan 0 2 South Korea

England 2 1 Japan

Japan 0 2 Ivory Coast


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