Monday 06 September 2010

Kagawa turns on the style in front of new Japan boss Zaccheroni

Shinji Kagawa capped a fine performance with the game’s only goal as Japan enjoyed a 1-0 friendly win over Paraguay in Yokohama on Saturday - the national side’s first fixture since a penalty shootout defeat to the same opponents in the last 16 of the World Cup spelt the end of Takeshi Okada’s reign as manager.

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder, who travelled to South Africa as 24th man after just missing out on the main squad, combined cleverly with Kengo Nakamura on 64 minutes to carve the Paraguayan defence open with an incisive off-the-ball run before calmly slotting the ball inside Justo Villar’s left-hand post.

Caretaker boss Hiromi Hara had sought to inject some youth into the side with starting berths for Kagawa, Catania forward Takayuki Morimoto, and debutant midfielder Hajime Hosogai. Yuzo Kurihara and Atsuto Uchida returned to the defence, while World Cup star Keisuke Honda was brought back into his more familiar role just behind the lone striker.

Hara’s decisions paid off as the hosts confidently wrought revenge for their spot-kick heartbreak in Pretoria, and generally looked the better side throughout despite a couple of nervous moments for goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima late on.

The showing drew warm praise from the new Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni, watching from the directors’ box after his appointment was announced by the JFA last Monday. The Italian remarked that “it was a difficult game and Paraguay were physically very strong, but Japan looked in fine condition and functioned very well as a team right up to the final whistle”.

Zaccheroni will observe tomorrow’s friendly with Guatemala in Osaka before taking full charge in time for autumn meetings with Argentina and South Korea. Despite a difficult spell in charge of Juventus last season, the 57-year-old is perhaps known for leading unfancied Udinese to third place in Serie A in 1998 and AC Milan to the Scudetto the following year.


There were few shocks in store for the J. League representatives when they joined the Emperor’s Cup at the second round stage yesterday - perhaps in part due to the fact that the non-league qualifiers had been forced to play their first round matches just 48 hours earlier.

The biggest upset came when last year’s semi-finalists Vegalta Sendai lost 1-0 against co-tenants Sony Sendai of the third-tier Japan Football League thanks to an extra-time winner from Hideki Kirita. Former winners Tokyo Verdy also suffered a similar fate against Machida Zelvia, who are seeking to win promotion to J2 for next season.

Holders Gamba Osaka cruised to a 6-2 home win over Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences. J1 leaders Nagoya Grampus beat Chukyo University 3-0, while second division side Sagan Tosu dealt out a ruthless 10-0 hammering to the teenagers of Kumamoto Gakuen University High School.

International friendly result
1-0 Paraguay

Emperor’s Cup 2nd round results
Kashima Antlers 6-0 Arte Takasaki
Roasso Kumamoto 2-1 Ehime FC
Vegalta Sendai 0-1 Sony Sendai (after extra time)
Cerezo Osaka 7-0 Toyama Shinjo Club
Albirex Niigata 3-0 Zweigen Kanazawa
Machida Zelvia 1-0 Tokyo Verdy
Nagoya Grampus 3-0 Chukyo University
Consadole Sapporo 4-1 Grulla Morioka
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-0 Dezzola Shimahe
Fagiano Okayama 2-3 Avispa Fukuoka
Omiya Ardija 4-1 Kamatamare Sanuki
Oita Trinita 3-2 Honda Lock
Thespa Kusatsu 1-3 Giravanz Kitakyushu
FC Tokyo 2-0 Komazawa University
Sagawa Printing 2-3 Kyoto Sanga (after extra time)
JEF United Chiba 3-0 FC Ryukyu
Kawasaki Frontale 4-0 National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya
Kataller Toyama 1-2 Yokohama FC
Montedio Yamagata 3-0 Blaublitz Akita
Shonan Bellmare 4-0 Renofa Yamaguchi
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 Honda FC
Mito HollyHock 4-2 Sagawa Shiga
Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 V-Varen Nagasaki
Sagan Tosu 10-0 Kumamoto Gakuen University High School
Gamba Osaka 6-2 Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences
FC Gifu 2-3 Tochigi SC
Vissel Kobe 2-0 MIO Biwaku Kusatsu
Kashiwa Reysol 6-0 Juntendo University
Urawa Reds 7-0 Tokyo International University
Tokushima Vortis 2-1 Gainare Tottori
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Ehime FC Shimanami
Ventforet Kofu 1-0 Matsumoto Yamaga

Nabisco Cup quarter-final first leg results
Kashima Antlers 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
FC Tokyo 1-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Vegalta Sendai
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Gamba Osaka

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