Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:28 AM
Oh yeah, the Japanese tried to copy the Icelandic fish celebration, but the original was always the better one.
Posted 21 August 2010 - 03:33 AM
Tokyo: Japan hope to field CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda and seven other Europe-based players for home friendlies against Paraguay and Guatemala in September as they prepare for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011™.
The Japan Football Association said it had sent letters asking their clubs to release them for Japan's first internationals since they lost to Paraguay on penalties in the last-16 round at the World Cup in South Africa.
Japan has yet to select a new coach to replace home-grown Takeshi Okada, who will leave his post at the end of this month.
If the post is not filled this month, Japan may have to play under a temporary coach against Paraguay on September 4 in Yokohama and against Guatemala on September 7 in Osaka, the association's vice president Kuniya Daini has said.
A full squad for the friendlies is expected to be annouonced on August 25 or 26.
Japan were placed with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria for the continental showpiece to be played in Qatar from January 7 to 29, 2011.
The eight Europe-based players which Japan want to play in the friendlies are:
Goalkeeper: Eiji Kawashima (Lierse SK/BEL)
Defenders: Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04/GER), Yuto Nagatomo (A.C. Cesena/ITA),
Midfielders: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow/RUS) Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble/FRA), Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg/GER), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/GER),
Forward: Takayuki Morimoto (Catania/ITA)
All of this, despite not having made our next managerial appointment
Posted 21 October 2010 - 11:30 PM
Kagawa provides reminder of Eastern promise
At 3.30pm on October 22, 1977, Cologne forward Yasuhiro Okudera attempted to separate Duisburg's Herbert Bussers from the ball. It was the first minute of Okudera's first Bundesliga game and it would have been his first touch of the ball in a competitive game in Germany. If he had made proper contact with the ball, that is.
Instead he brought down Bussers and, since this happened in Cologne's penalty area, the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.
There are no two ways about it - it was the worst possible start for the first Asian player in the professional German game. Okudera, signed for 300,000 Marks (then £75,000) from Japanese club Furukawa, wasn't even supposed to start the match because he had spent the previous week munching tablets like candy on account of an infected wound. And now this.
But it all turned out well, in more ways than one. Rudi Seliger stepped up to take the penalty for Duisburg and, behind his his back, Cologne's Heinz Simmet pointed to a corner to tell his 'keeper Toni Schumacher where he thought the ball would be placed. Seliger struck, Simmet was right, Schumacher saved. And Okudera, we may surmise, enjoyed a big sigh of relief. Cologne eventually won the game 2-1.
It also turned out well when you look at the bigger picture. Okudera spent almost nine years in Germany and played more than 250 games for Cologne, Hertha and Bremen. He won the league and cup Double with Cologne and would have won a second Bundesliga title, with Bremen, if it hadn't been for another, much more famous, missed penalty - Michael Kutzop's 88th-minute spot-kick on the penultimate day of the 1985-86 season against Bayern.
Okudera also became the first Asian to score in the European Cup, when he put one past Nottingham Forest's Peter Shilton with his first touch of the ball, 28 seconds after coming on, to make it 3-3 at the City Ground in the legendary 1979 semi-final first leg. (You don't hear this often, but Shilton should have saved the shot. However, it didn't matter much as Forest won the second leg 1-0.)
A few weeks after this game, the second Asian success story in Germany got off the ground when the South Korean Bum-Kun Cha made his league debut for Frankfurt. Actually, this was the much bigger success story, because while Okudera was a solid Bundesliga player, Cha became a true star in Frankfurt, and later at Leverkusen. The German writer Eckhard Henscheid composed a 130-line ode called Hymn to Bum-Kun Cha in 1979 (it name-checks Okudera) and, almost two decades later, a Frankfurt indie band called itself Bum Khun Cha Youth (sic).
Of course, it's way too early to tell if Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa can emulate Cha - or even, for that matter, Okudera - but there's no denying that the young Japanese already enjoys the kind of cult status among Borussia's support that Cha had in Frankfurt. Even before Kagawa scored two goals to win the heated Ruhr derby for Dortmund against Schalke, the Dortmund supporters had watched and listened to enough YouTube videos to sing Kagawa Shinji - putting the family name first, as it's done in Japan - and make brave attempts at getting the sounds right, pronouncing the 'w' more like 'oo'.
This is astonishing, considering Kagawa has been with Dortmund for not more than 14 weeks. But the fans were given proof very early that this is quite a talented 21-year-old. He was the best man on the pitch when Dortmund met a star-studded and fiendishly expensive Manchester City side in a pre-season friendly. Kagawa, signed for only €350,000 from Cerezo Osaka, won the penalty that led to the first goal and scored the second as Dortmund won 3-1.
Also, Kagawa reminds Dortmund's support of two former players who were very popular in the stands. The first is, of course, Tomas Rosicky, because Kagawa's technique, vision and pace over the crucial first few yards (not to mention his stature) make him almost a dead ringer for the Czech playmaker.
The second is, far less apparently, the Scot Paul Lambert. Like Lambert, Kagawa was signed as a stand-in for more established midfielders but won a place in the starting line-up through diligence and his work-rate; like the Lambert transfer back in 1996, Kagawa's signing was both a no-risk deal and seemingly the result of good scouting in places untapped by competitors.
Seemingly. Because the truth of the matter is that it wasn't scouts who found Lambert back then or spotted Kagawa now. In both cases it was an agent who alerted the club to the availability of a good player. Such things often come about in a convoluted way and usually have to do with being well-connected. Which is why you could say that the Kagawa deal, broadly speaking, goes back all the way to Okudera.
In the 1970s and '80s, German footballers past their prime went to North America or Switzerland to see out their careers and secure a final lucrative contract. But this changed on a brisk day in the winter of 1992-93, when an old friend suddenly paid an unexpected visit to the Cologne clubhouse - Okudera.
Five years after he had retired as a player, Okudera was working as what amounted to a director of football for his old club. It was now called JEF United Ichihara and would soon be competing in the inaugural season of the first professional league in Japan - the J League.
Many Japanese clubs went looking for foreign players around this time to bolster their squads and make their teams more attractive for the fans during this crucial first season - Gary Lineker signed for Nagoya Grampus Eight, Gerald Vanenburg joined Jubilo Iwata, Zico went to Kashima Antlers.
But Germany would be represented by no less than four players in the first year of the new J League, as Okudera lured not only his old Cologne team-mate Pierre Littbarski to JEF United but also his old Bremen team-mate Frank Ordenewitz.
Those two were joined in Japan by Uwe Rahn and Michael Rummenigge, who signed for Urawa Red Diamonds in two transfers that established this particular club's very strong German ties. (Uwe Bein and Guido Buchwald joined Red Diamonds only one year later, and the list of the team's future coaches would include Holger Osieck and Volker Finke.)
Put differently, German football people have been familiar with Japan for one-and-a-half decades, and that includes football people who didn't even play in Japan themselves, such as a former midfielder by the name of Thomas Kroth.
Kroth played together with Okudera at Cologne and hung up his boots many years later at Borussia Dortmund, as a team-mate of Michael Zorc, who is now Dortmund's director of football. In the mid-'90s, Kroth went into career management and soon discovered an almost pristine playing field - Asia, and particularly Japan.
In the spirit of those times, Kroth placed some older and lesser-known Germans with Japanese clubs, such as Dirk van der Ven, but he quickly realised the more rewarding way was the opposite direction.
And so 23-year-old Naohiro Takahara went from Jubilo Iwata to Hamburg in the same month that the 32-year-old Van der Ven went from Bielefeld to Yokohama - January 2003.
Since then, the number of transfers from Asia to Germany has gradually but steadily increased. Junichi Inamoto joined Frankfurt three years ago, and then, in early 2008, no less than four clubs suddenly found new players in the Far East: Bochum (Shinji Ono), Wolfsburg (Makoto Hasebe), Wehen Wiesbaden (Xie Hui) and Jena (Naoya Kikuchi).
This summer, Kagawa went to Dortmund, Asuto Uchida joined Schalke, Kisho Yano came to Freiburg and Bochum signed the first North Korean player in Germany, Chong Tese (sometimes spelled Jong Tae-Se).
What is this - simply a coincidence? Does this prove the concept of the collective soul, where everybody suddenly feels the same urge and acts accordingly? Or are our clubs just following a trend and jumping on the Japanese/Asian bandwagon?
No, it's none of that. It's a talent for recognising talent coupled with good business sense. Of the ten Asian players I've just mentioned, nine are represented by the same agency. It is Kroth's.
At the end of the day, it was Kroth who arranged the marriage between his old club and Kagawa. However, it was not a foregone conclusion that Borussia would be the ones to snatch him up. Last winter, Kagawa spent some time in Europe to check out Cologne, Schalke and Venlo in the Netherlands. He was also courted by Volker Finke, though the Urawa coach quickly realised he didn't stand much of a chance because Kagawa had no intention of staying in Japan for much longer.
In fact, he could have moved during the winter break, but apparently decided against it because he feared it would hurt his chances of making the World Cup squad. In the end, though, he was cut from the Japan squad and went to South Africa only as a non-player to gain experience. On the first day of the J League season, in March, Kagawa told his fellow countrymen: "My move to Europe is only delayed by some months."
That is an aspect of the Kagawa story which is usually overlooked when people wonder how the young player managed to adapt so swiftly and how he can cope with being so far away from home all by himself. In Germany, Kagawa's image is that of the carefree, happy-go-lucky kid, but he is also, in the words of a Japanese colleague of mine, "an incredibly ambitious person".
Actually, that is why he came so cheap. The €350,000 Dortmund paid to Cerezo was not even a proper transfer fee but just compensation for the player's schooling. Ahead of the 2010 season, Kagawa insisted on a get-out clause for Europe and had this modest sum written into his contract. This is clearly one man who trusts himself and his talent.
The extent of Kagawa's ambition has surprised even those who knew him before he moved to Europe. A Japanese friend of mine predicted that "language and communication will be a big obstacle, as he does not seem to be bookish or a diligent learner", but Kagawa already speaks a bit of German. After his first Bundesliga goal, against Wolfsburg, he grinned into the camera and said "Didn't sleep, didn't sleep!" in German, referring to the fact he'd just come back from international duty and been awake all night due to jet lag.
Didn't sleep - or, more precisely, didn't dream - would be a good catchphrase for Kagawa's time in Germany so far. He's been nothing short of a revelation, as his supposed lack of physical strength doesn't seem to be a problem and his finishing is already better than Rosicky's ever was. If he can keep up this form, expect a Hymn to Shinji and the formation of a Dortmund band called Kagawa Youth.
Posted 04 November 2010 - 06:37 PM
THIS is what a cup final should look like (highlights start at around 4:15):
Posted 04 November 2010 - 07:50 PM
So Kashima, Gamba Osaka,Kawasaki and Nagoya didn't make the finals ? Well, it's not like i follow J-League either.
Posted 26 December 2010 - 06:59 PM
Kashima 2-1 Nagoya
Fukuoka 2-3 FC Tokyo (After extra time)
Shimizu 1-1 Yamagata (Shimizu won 5-4 on pens)
Gamba Osaka 2-1 Urawa (AET)
I caught the Gamba-Urawa game, and it was a match that either team could have won in normal time. Endo's trademark free kick goal was canceled out by Tomoya Ugajin's strike just minutes later.
Gamba won it in the end when Lucas played the ball off to one Takashi Usami, who somehow squeezed his shot past two defenders and the keeper. By the way, he's only 18 years old.
Posted 31 December 2010 - 06:20 PM
History repeats itself as Kashima Antlers and Shimizu S-Pulse meet in the Emperor’s Cup final, just as they did exactly ten years ago.
On January 1st, 2001, the Antlers prevailed 3-2 in a dramatic game that lasted 120 minutes, traditionally the last act of the Japanese football season.
Since 1992, the year marking the beginning of professional football in Japan, Kashima have been in five finals and won three of them, while S-Pulse have been in four and won only one (in 2001) which represents arguably the most prestigious piece of silverware for the Shizuoka club so far.
The competition however, precedes professional football by more than seventy years, as the first edition (which featured a mere four clubs) dates back to 1921.
Since the mid 90s, the number of participants has grown to around 6,000 clubs, including countless amateur teams, high schools and universities. Keio University is, as a matter of fact, the team that holds the most victories, with their last of nine dating back to 1956.
A team from Seoul counts among the past champions - a reminder of Japan's imperial past - and there have been four victories by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the precursors of the Urawa Red Diamonds.
This year’s finalists are an intriguing duo. Kashima have won three consecutive J-League titles from 2007-2009 but this year finished only fourth. The campaign would be labelled a disappointment if they fail to clinch this title and the promise of Asian Champions League football that goes with it.
Shimizu S-Pulse seemed good enough to compete for the title in 2009 and 2010 but on both occasions choked once they got to the top of the table. Moreover, this season they had to experience the humiliation of witnessing cross-regional arch-enemies Jubilo Iwata lifting the Nabisco Cup.
However, S-Pulse were in great shape in the semifinal, with Shinji Ono directing a well oiled football machine that found its natural terminal in Frode Johnsen. At 36 the Norweigan is still decisive and left his mark on the match with two goals against Gamba.
The men to watch for the Antlers are the two strikers, Shinzo Koroki and Yuya Osako. Even when the team is not at 100%, they seem capable of firing at any time, especially if Mitsuo Ogasawara and Takuya Nogawa are in inspired form.
On paper it's a very balanced final that also has ACL football and the right to open the next season against J1 champions Nagoya Grampus in the Xerox Supercup riding on it.
Should be a great final. It'll kick off at 2pm local time, and on the stroke of midnight where I live
(By the way, I've got Kashima winning 2-1)
Posted 01 January 2011 - 07:03 AM
And that is indeed how it ended. Fellype Gabriel opened the scoring for Kashima with a glancing header in the 1st half, before Frode Johnsen equalized for Shimizu around the hour mark. The Antlers won it in the end with a free kick goal from Takuya Nozawa (although the keeper got a hand on it, and in truth, should have saved it).
(By the way, I've got Kashima winning 2-1)
Shimizu came on strong to start the second half, but the Antlers got the better of play over the course of the 90 minutes, and deserved the trophy in the end.
Posted 30 January 2011 - 04:47 AM
Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:24 AM
You mean the high school tournament? The nickname for the tourney is Inter-High, iirc. Lemme know if this is what you're referring to
Kei, would you mind making a new topic about Koshien? Is the name the same like in baseball?
Posted 29 March 2011 - 10:29 PM
The moment of the match by far was Kazu, one of the godfathers of Japanese football and still an active player at age 44, scoring a fantastic goal for the All-Stars in the second half. He's still got it after all these years... the skills, the moves, the swag, and most importantly, the ability to raise the spirits of an entire nation with one kick of the ball.
Simply one of those magical moments.
Posted 29 March 2011 - 10:52 PM
Posted 01 May 2011 - 03:27 AM
Love this kid. He's just about to turn 19, but he's become an irreplaceable part of a Gamba Osaka squad that should challenge for the title again this season.
Word from Japan is that he's still getting by for the most part on his raw talent alone, but once he gains more experience and picks up on the nuances of the game, watch out. I might have said this before, but I really think he'll make his debut with the NT by the end of the year.
Posted 24 May 2011 - 03:16 AM
FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Monday confirmed that the FIFA Club World Cup would take place in Japan as scheduled.
Speaking at a news conference at JFA House in Tokyo, the head of Japanese football’s governing body said he had met Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Yoshiaki Takagi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, and they had given him assurances on Japan’s ability to host the tournament.
A number of sports events have been cancelled in Japan as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but speaking alongside JFA President Junji Ogura, and Vice President and General Secretary Kohzo Tashima, Blatter said Japan is now able to move forward.
“I received a letter from Yoshiaki Takagi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, saying everything was in place to hold the tournament and we will do it in December as scheduled,” Blatter confirmed.
“Prime Minister Kan confirmed Japan’s availability, will and determination to return to the international scene in sport and to look forward to the future with confidence. He also thanked us for the solidarity of football and what we have done and will do here.”
Blatter said Kan’s statement had left him in no doubt that there was confidence both inside the country and outside the country to move forward.
“I’m also very happy to see other international federations going in the same direction, with the volleyball federation and gymnastics, so there is a solidarity between the sports organizations,” Blatter added.
Blatter said FIFA would also respond with financial assistance to help rebuild football infrastructure in the affected areas, with an initial contribution of $1.5 million.
Blatter said he wanted to come to Japan to personally deliver a message of sympathy and encouragement to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami and he praised the “people of Japan for their dignity” in dealing with what happened on March 11.
He also said he would support Brazilian star Cafu in his attempts to host a charity match in Japan. Cafu, who was captain of the Brazil team that won the World Cup in Yokohama in 2002, has suggested hosting a match involving World Cup stars and other players at the World Cup final venue in Yokohama.
Blatter praised the contribution of Japan in world football and singled out President Ogura for his input at the highest levels of FIFA: “I am very happy to say – not only me personally, but also as president of FIFA – that FIFA regrets that Junji Ogura couldn’t be re-elected in the AFC Congress for a further term of office because of age limits.
“I think age limits or limits of mandates are not the right way. It’s the quality of the office-bearer that should be taken into consideration.”
Blatter praised Ogura’s work on FIFA’s Executive Committee, citing his “wisdom and knowledge of the game.”
“He was always respected because he respected the organization,” the FIFA boss added.
Posted 24 June 2011 - 05:49 PM