Monday 20 February 2012

Japan go experimental for Iceland friendly

Japan national team coach Alberto Zaccheroni will use Friday’s meeting with Iceland in Osaka as an opportunity to experiment with fully nine uncapped players named in a wholly domestic-based squad of 25.

18-year-old Yuya Kubo of J2 side Kyoto Sanga is the biggest surprise in a list that also sees first ever call-ups for fellow striker Hidetaka Kanazono of Jubilo Iwata, midfielders Ryota Isomura of Nagoya Grampus and Gaku Shibasaki of Kashima Antlers, and goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi of Vegalta Sendai.

Also hoping to make their international debuts after serving as unused squad members in the past are Naoya Kondo and Junya Tanaka – who won J1 championship medals with Kashiwa Reysol last term – as well as Kashima midfielder Chikashi Masuda and Shimizu S-Pulse custodian Kaito Yamamoto.

Meanwhile, veteran forwards Yoshito Okubo of Vissel Kobe and Naohiro Ishikawa of newly-promoted FC Tokyo both return to the full national squad for the first time since Zaccheroni took charge in 2010.

The match is Japan’s last scheduled friendly before the final round of Asian qualification for the 2014 World Cup kicks off in June. The Samurai Blue sealed their place with two third round matches to spare and host current Group C leaders Uzbekistan for a dead rubber in Toyota a week tomorrow.


One man hoping for an early chance at full international level in the Uzbekistan fixture is Ryo Miyaichi, who scored his first goal in English football on Saturday as Bolton Wanderers beat Millwall 2-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The 19-year-old was forced to remain patient as the opening half of the season yielded just two substitute appearances in the League Cup with Arsenal, but a loan switch to the Reebok Stadium on transfer deadline day has seen him immediately involved in Owen Coyle’s first team.

Named in the Trotters’ starting eleven for the first time after impressing on his Premier League debut against Wigan Athletic seven days earlier, Miyaichi needed just four minutes to stamp his impression on the cup tie. Sprinting onto a quick free kick from Sam Ricketts, Bolton’s number 30 cleverly cut across Millwall full-back Alan Dunne before firing an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.

Millwall 0-2 Bolton Wanderers (Miyaichi goal)

Japan Football Association technical director Hiromi Hara had informed the press on Friday that Miyaichi’s club had been contacted with regard to the forthcoming World Cup qualifier – for which Zaccheroni will be able to call upon his overseas-based players.

Takashi Usami, who once again sat on the Bayern Munich bench at the end of a week in which he reiterated his intention to leave the club this summer, is also on the standby list.

Hannover 96 4-2 VfB Stuttgart (Okazaki goal)

- In the Bundesliga, VfB Stuttgart slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Hannover 96 but Shinji Okazaki at least gave away fans one reason to smile with a spectacular overhead kick to complete the scoring on 79 minutes.
- In-form Shinji Kagawa is set to miss out for Japan after rolling an ankle in training with league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.
- Tadanari Lee scored his first goal in the English Championship to round off a comfortable 4-0 win for Southampton at home to Derby County.

posted by Ben Mabley at 17:36 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 13 February 2012

Okazaki and Kagawa on target as Usami ponders options

Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa was once again the pick of the Japanese internationals in action across Europe over the weekend, scoring the only goal as the reigning Bundesliga champions held onto top spot with victory at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

The 22-year-old collected the ball from teammate Jakub Błaszczykowski to cleverly burst past one defender and cut back inside a second, before hitting a low shot off balance that found its way inside the far post via the outstretched leg of Leverkusen ’keeper Bernd Leno.

The win keeps Dortmund two points clear of Bayern Munich at the summit.

Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Kagawa’s Samurai Blue teammate Shinji Okazaki was another with plenty to celebrate as his 32nd-minute header was the third in a 5-0 romp for VfB Stuttgart against struggling Hertha Berlin. The former Shimizu S-Pulse man broke free in the opposing penalty area to benefit from a perfectly-placed cross from Dutch full-back Khalid Boulahrouz.

Gotoku Sakai also made his full debut for Stuttgart after completing an 18-month loan agreement from Albirex Niigata over the winter.

VfB Stuttgart 5-0 Hertha Berlin

One player moving in the other direction, meanwhile, is former Japan forward Kisho Yano, whose return to Niigata was announced on Wednesday following a difficult 18-month period in Germany with Freiburg – who were beaten 3-2 by Makoto Hasebe’s VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Hajime Hosogai put in another strong performance for Augsburg as they drew 0-0 with Nürnberg yesterday afternoon, while Takashi Usami has been given a vote of confidence after seemingly being set to leave Bayern Munich just a few weeks ago.

The 19-year-old has spent much of the season in the reserves, with the Bavarians declining their option to turn his loan from Gamba Osaka into a permanent deal, but has now been called back onto the first team bench for the last two league matches with new reports suggesting that the club are in fact keen to extend his rental arrangement for a further year.

Bayern defender Jerome Boateng has added his support, telling “[Usami] is a great guy and a good player. It would really please me if he stays at Bayern.”

However, Usami himself has expressed reluctance at the idea of a lengthened loan. Speaking to the Munich-based tz newspaper, he said: “I am not really positive if this could work... I would like to join another club where I could play more regularly and grab myself a more important role.”

- Yuto Nagatomo came on as a late substitute but was unable to prevent a shock 1-0 home loss for Internazionale against Serie A’s bottom club Novara on Sunday. Takayuki Morimoto was not in the matchday squad for the visitors.
- Mike Havenaar played his first full 90 minutes for Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem in a 3-1 defeat away to Feyenoord.

posted by Ben Mabley at 17:48 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 06 February 2012

Gonda handling errors costly as Japan’s Olympic side hit stumbling block

A 90th minute goal out of nothing condemned the Japanese men’s U-23 team to a 2-1 defeat against Syria on Sunday which sees them relinquish top spot in Group C of the Asian qualifying section for the London Olympic Games this summer.

Nominally the away side despite the game being played in Amman, Jordan due to the current political situation in Syria, Japan were placed onto the back foot after 19 minutes when goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda let a Mohammed Fares free kick spill through his hands via a slight deflection off the head of Yuya Osako.

The Kashima forward, who had only entered the fray moments previously as a replacement for the injured Ryohei Yamazaki, atoned for his unfortunate initial intervention in first half stoppage time – playing the ball through for Kensuke Nagai to squeeze it past Ibrahim Alma and just inside the far post.

Osako could have clinched all three points for Japan with ten minutes remaining, but struck a tame shot off balance that Alma was able to push behind for a corner.

However, with the match seemingly headed for a draw, Syria defender Ahmad Al Salih was the surprise hero right at the death with a speculative looping shot from fully 30 yards. Gonda attempted to block with both hands stretched above his head but misjudged the flight of the ball and looked back in horror to see it nestle in the net behind him.

The setback sees Japan fall behind Syria in the Group C table on goals scored, ahead of their remaining fixtures away to already-eliminated Malaysia on 22 February and at home to third-placed Bahrain on 14 March. Only the three group winners are guaranteed a ticket to London, with the runners-up being placed into a further round-robin to determine the final qualifier.


The European transfer window closed with Keisuke Honda still a CSKA Moscow player after his anticipated switch to Serie A side Lazio fell through at the last minute.

While conceding that the player had been keen to leave Russia – a poorly-kept secret for some time – CSKA were quick to blame the Italians for their insistence on paying the reported €14 million transfer fee in instalments; an accusation rejected by Lazio officials who accused the selling party of ‘playing games’.

Honda himself was quoted by as saying, “It’s true that I was looking forward to Italy. All I can say is that this time things didn’t work out with Lazio. But there may be an even brighter future in store for me. My goals haven’t changed and I don’t intend to change them.”

One Japan international who was able to put an end to an unhappy spell in Europe was Masahiko Inoha, who joined Vissel Kobe from cash-strapped Croatian side Hajduk Split. The defender had reportedly not received his wages for several weeks and severed ties with the club in mid-January.

Meanwhile, German giants Bayern Munich have announced that they will not be taking up their option to complete a permanent deal for Takashi Usami, who is currently on a year-long loan from Gamba Osaka.

posted by Ben Mabley at 19:35 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 30 January 2012

Kagawa brace keeps Dortmund on Bayern's trail

Shinji Kagawa headed up a list of Japanese internationals making a name for themselves in Europe over the weekend with his fifth and sixth goals of the season to help Borussia Dortmund seal a 3-1 home victory over Hoffenheim.

The former Cerezo Osaka attacking midfielder broke through to open the scoring on 16 minutes – slotting past Tom Starke in the visitors’ goal after Sebastian Kehl had pounced on a moment’s hesitation by Sebastian Rudy.

Kagawa then launched the move that led to a second for Kevin Großkreutz on the half hour mark, and the favour was returned early in the second period as the striker cleverly back-heeled the ball beyond Starke for Kagawa to make the score 3-0.

Fabian Johnson netted a consolation goal for Hoffenheim but the win ensures that Dortmund remain in second place in the Bundesliga table, behind Bayern Munich on goal difference.

Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Hoffenheim

Elsewhere in Germany, a brilliant assist from Hajime Hosogai set up the equalising goal as Augsburg moved off the bottom with a 2-2 draw against Kaiserslautern.

With the Bavarians trailing 2-1 thanks to goals either side of half time from Florian Dick, Hosogai met Torsten Oehrl’s pass with a spectacular back-heeled volley putting Stephan Hain clean through to level the scores. The point allowed Augsburg to leapfrog over Freiburg on goal difference.

Augsburg 2-2 Kaiserslautern

There was no such good news, however, for Shinji Okazaki – who was a half time substitute as tenth-place Stuttgart lost 3-0 at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday night.

In the Netherlands, Japan forward Mike Havenaar netted his first goal in the colours of Vitesse Arnhem but was unable to prevent his new club from slipping to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of new leaders PSV Eindhoven.

Entering the fray as an 81st-minute substitute, the 194cm hit man found space at the far post to head home a cross from the Ecuadorian Renato Ibarra just three minutes later to briefly restore hope for Vitesse at 2-1 – before Stanislav Manolev made sure of the points for PSV in stoppage time.

Havenaar was quick to play down the significance of his goal, telling Eredivisie Live that “it doesn’t mean a thing as we lost”. Michihiro Yasuda was an unused substitute for a defeat that keeps Vitesse in seventh position.

PSV Eindhoven 3-1 Vitesse Arnhem (Havenaar goal)

Maya Yoshida played 90 minutes for VVV Venlo in a crushing 4-0 defeat at RKC Waalwijk that saw his side fall to second from bottom.

Elsewhere, Tadanari Lee made his debut for English Championship club Southampton as a second half substitute away to Millwall in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The Saints led for most of the match through Rickie Lambert but were forced into a replay thanks to Darius Henderson’s equaliser four minutes from time.

In Serie A, there was frustration for Yuto Nagatomo as Internazionale went down to a 1-0 defeat at Lecce.

posted by Ben Mabley at 18:10 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 23 January 2012

The winter so far

Just three weeks after FC Tokyo brought the curtain down on the last campaign with a 4-2 victory over Kyoto Sanga in the final of the Emperor’s Cup on New Year’s Day, Japan’s professional footballers are back at work this week as the J. League clubs begin their preparations for the 2012 season.

Having skippered the capital side to a cup and J2 title double – and scored to level things up at 1-1 in the final – Japan defender Yasuyuki Konno completed his long-rumoured move to Gamba Osaka last week, commenting “I felt a change of environment would enable me to step up another level.”

The transfer completed a rush of winter activity for the third best team in Japan last term, with Brazilian forward Paulinho the biggest other arrival from relegated Ventforet Kofu, while experienced names like Satoshi Yamaguchi (JEF United Chiba), Hideo Hashimoto, Kazumichi Takagi (both Vissel Kobe), and Lee Keun-Ho (Ulsan Hyundai) were all allowed to leave. Long-term loanees Daiki Niwa, Shinichi Terada, and Shu Kurata also return to Banpaku – in Niwa’s case, for the first time in an incredible five years.

Kofu also lost their star striker, 194cm Japan international Mike Havenaar, to Vitesse Arnhem of the Netherlands.

Urawa Reds have begun the rebuilding process after narrowly escaping relegation last year with the signing of Konno’s occasional international defensive partner Tomoaki Makino on a year’s loan from 1. FC Köln in Germany, where he has struggled to hold down a first-team place. The 24-year-old will link up with his former coach at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Mihailo Petrović; and also most likely with Japan teammate Yuki Abe, who reportedly left Leicester City yesterday.

Reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol have been relatively quiet in the transfer market – thus far avoiding a looting of the players that achieved their historic success but with Jubilo Iwata utility man Daisuke Nasu the only established new signing. Nagoya Grampus will look to regain the title with their ranks bolstered by the arrival of defender Yosuke Ishibitsu from Vissel Kobe and a permanent deal for Colombian midfielder Danilson.

Two prolific Brazilian veterans will also line up in new colours this season, as Juninho joins Kashima Antlers following 214 goals in nine seasons with Kawasaki Frontale, while former Kashima man Marquinhos re-signs for Yokohama F. Marinos – with whom he won the championship in 2003 – after an abortive stint at Vegalta Sendai last year.

The domestic season will begin as per tradition with the Fuji Xerox Super Cup between Kashiwa and FC Tokyo on 3 March, before J1 kicks off the following weekend with a number of tasty fixtures – including an early return to Hiroshima for Makino and Petrović with Urawa, a Tokai derby between Nagoya and Shimizu S-Pulse, and a Kansai derby as Gamba host Kobe.

Before then, however, Alberto Zaccheroni will lead the Japan national team into battle twice in late February, with a friendly against Iceland in Osaka on the 24th preceding a World Cup qualifier at home to Uzbekistan in Toyota five days later.

- Hiroshi Kiyotake, Kensuke Nagai, and Hiroki Sakai have all been named in Takashi Sekizuka’s Japan U-23 squad to face Syria in Olympic qualification on 5 February.
- 197cm forward Hiroshi Ibusuki made his debut in the Spanish top flight with Sevilla yesterday, coming off the bench to play the final six minutes of a 1-1 derby draw at Real Betis.

Emperor’s Cup final result
Kyoto Sanga 2-4 FC Tokyo

Yokohama F Marinos 2-4 Kyoto Sanga (after extra time)
FC Tokyo 1-0 Cerezo Osaka

Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Yokohama F Marinos (after extra time; Marinos win 4-3 on penalties)
Kyoto Sanga 1-0 Shonan Bellmare
FC Tokyo 1-0 Urawa Reds
Cerezo Osaka 2-2 Shimizu S-Pulse (after extra time; Cerezo win 6-5 on penalties)

Fourth round
Nagoya Grampus 3-3 Kashiwa Reysol (after extra time; Nagoya win 9-8 on penalties)
Yokohama F Marinos 4-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kashima Antlers 0-1 Kyoto Sanga
Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Shonan Bellmare
Mito HollyHock 0-1 FC Tokyo
Ehime FC 1-3 Urawa Reds
Cerezo Osaka 1-1 Vegalta Sendai (after extra time; Cerezo win 4-2 on penalties)
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 JEF United Chiba
posted by Ben Mabley at 18:59 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Friday 23 December 2011

Minutecast special: 2011 season review PART 2/2


In a specially extended edition of the Minutecast, Football Japan’s Ben Mabley is joined by fellow Japanese football writers Sean Carroll and Cesare Polenghi to look back on the 2011 season.

The trio discuss Kashiwa Reysol’s incredible title triumph and performances at the FIFA Club World Cup, the challenges of Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka, a season of misery for Urawa Reds, Asian Cup success for Japan back in January, and football’s response to the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

We hope you enjoy this new experiment with the Minutecast – please do leave us your feedback below or via Twitter:

Ben Mabley: @BenMabley
Sean Carroll: @seankyaroru
Cesare Polenghi: @japanesesoccer

Note: This podcast was recorded before the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
posted by Ben Mabley at 00:23 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Thursday 22 December 2011

Minutecast special: 2011 season review PART 1/2


In a specially extended edition of the Minutecast, Football Japan’s Ben Mabley is joined by fellow Japanese football writers Sean Carroll and Cesare Polenghi to look back on the 2011 season.

The trio discuss Kashiwa Reysol’s incredible title triumph and performances at the FIFA Club World Cup, the challenges of Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka, a season of misery for Urawa Reds, Asian Cup success for Japan back in January, and football’s response to the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

We hope you enjoy this new experiment with the Minutecast – please do leave us your feedback below or via Twitter:

Ben Mabley: @BenMabley
Sean Carroll: @seankyaroru
Cesare Polenghi: @japanesesoccer

Note: This podcast was recorded before the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
posted by Ben Mabley at 23:59 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Minutecast special: 2011 season review

In a specially extended edition of the Minutecast, Football Japan’s Ben Mabley is joined by fellow Japanese football writers Sean Carroll and Cesare Polenghi to look back on the 2011 season.

The trio discuss Kashiwa Reysol’s incredible title triumph and performances at the FIFA Club World Cup, the challenges of Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka, a season of misery for Urawa Reds, Asian Cup success for Japan back in January, and football’s response to the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

We hope you enjoy this new experiment with the Minutecast – please do leave us your feedback below or via Twitter:

Ben Mabley: @BenMabley
Sean Carroll: @seankyaroru
Cesare Polenghi: @japanesesoccer

Note: This podcast was recorded before the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
posted by Ben Mabley at 19:19 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 19 December 2011

Rampant Barcelona take world title as Kashiwa miss out on bronze

FC Barcelona lived up to their billing as one of the greatest sides ever to have graced the world of football by crushing Santos 4-0 to lift the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama, but Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol missed out on the medal ceremonies after defeat to Al-Sadd of Qatar in the third-place playoff.

The two Asian sides had required penalties to separate them following a goalless stalemate in Sunday’s warm-up act, but the Catalans wasted little time in proving that they and Lionel Messi – not Neymar and his fellow Brazilians – were the main attraction. Goals from Messi, Xavi, and Cesc Fabregas opened up a daunting 3-0 lead by the interval, before the Argentine struck gold again late on to cap a Golden Ball-winning performance.

A bright, open start to the match soon gave way to the now-customary Barcelona dominance as the champions of Spain and Europe passed the ball around at will and pressurised the Santos goal in numbers. On 17 minutes, the crowd at the Yokohama International Stadium rose to its feet when Xavi stretched a heel behind him to perfectly control and bring down an airborne pass, before sending a precision through ball for Messi to loft delicately over the onrushing Rafael Cabral.

Xavi shared the acclaim and found the net himself seven minutes later – seizing the ball inside the penalty area after a cutback from Dani Alves had just evaded Durval and Bruno Rodrigo, and smashing a low shot past the goalkeeper.

With Neymar struggling to get a look in, it was Borges who had the first real chance for Santos, hitting a low shot from a tight angle into the arms of Victor Valdes. But the waves of Barcelona attacks were simply relentless and perhaps best embodied by the manner of the third goal shortly before half time.

Messi just about managed to keep his footing as he evaded a desperate challenge in the penalty area, allowing Alves to get in a cross which Cabral did well to punch away. But Thiago Alcântara was immediately on hand to head the ball back towards goal, and even though Cabral recovered his position to save again, he was helpless to prevent Fabregas from netting the final rebound.

The fourth goal was perhaps the most special. With the Santos defence stretched, Messi appeared to have taken a heavy first touch from Alves’s low pass, but just as the ’keeper looked set to collect, the Argentine reached out a leg and stabbed the ball into the ground with his studs, sending it bouncing beyond his opponent and allowing him to recover his balance to slot home.


In jubilant mood after adding the Club World Cup to the Supercopa de España and European Super Cup collected soon after his summer arrival from Arsenal, Fabregas stopped to speak to the Minutecast after the final.

“It’s a very good day for this football club. It’s been very difficult to get here because you have to win the Champions League, then you have to win the semi-final game and the final against teams that maybe we are not used to because they come from other countries and different places in the world.

He added, “If you say that it’s easy, it’s because we played a very serious game – very professional and disciplined – and that made it look easy. But it wasn’t easy at all.

“We’re always relaxed. I think this team loves pressure; this team loves these kinds of games, and that’s why they won as much as they did already in these last four seasons. I think they don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore, and all we have to do is keep believing that we can do more.”


In the playoff for third place, Kashiwa gave a strong account of themselves against a Qatari side crowned as continental champions last month but were repeatedly thwarted by goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr throughout the 90 minutes and, decisively, in the penalty shootout.

With Al-Sadd once again sitting deep, the game began slowly before Junya Tanaka went close to scoring twice within a matter of moments midway through the first half. The forward’s low shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area struck the near post, while a second effort soon afterwards from Koki Mizuno’s determined cutback was somehow kept out at close range by Saqr.

The man between the posts stood firm to deny a number of other hopeful Kashiwa efforts, including a Hideaki Kitajima header and a long-range strike from Jorge Wagner, while opposite number Takanori Sugeno also demonstrated fine form in keeping out powerful efforts by Kader Keita and Ibrahim Abdulmajed.

The game went straight into a shootout after 90 goalless minutes, and in a cruel twist of irony, it was Ryohei Hayashi – who struck the winning penalty in Kashiwa’s quarter-final with Monterrey – who was denied on this occasion by the dive of Saqr. Nadir Belhadj then slotted home Al-Sadd’s fifth penalty from five to clinch third place and the bronze medals.

Reysol manager Nelsinho Baptista struggled to hide his disappointment during his post-game press conference, but was keen to stress how far the side had come just two weeks after clinching their first J. League title – and a year after promotion from J2.

Quoted by, the Brazilian said: “In my view, Kashiwa were the only team who tried to win during the 90 minutes. If you look at shots on goal and possession of the ball, I am sure we would be ahead of Al-Sadd in these respects. But once again, as it was against Santos, we were unable to take our chances. We must learn that, in tough games like these, we cannot afford to waste so many opportunities.

“But the status of this club has changed through competing in this tournament and we are able to hold our heads high because we have competed proudly.”

FIFA Club World Cup final result
Santos (BRA) 0-4 Barcelona (ESP)

FIFA Club World Cup third-place playoff result
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 0
-0 Al-Sadd (QAT) (after 90 minutes; Al-Sadd win 5-3 on penalties)

posted by Ben Mabley at 03:24 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Friday 16 December 2011

Neymar and company brush aside brave Reysol

J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol were denied a glamour date with FC Barcelona in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup as spectacular strikes from Neymar, Borges, and Danilo gave Brazilian giants Santos a 3-1 victory in their last four meeting at the Toyota Stadium on Wednesday.

Despite a spirited second half fightback, which saw Hiroki Sakai add to his growing stock with a headed goal that briefly reduced the deficit to one, the Sun Kings will instead have to make do with a playoff for third place against AFC Champions League winners Al-Sadd of Qatar – who were thrashed 4-0 by the Catalans in Yokohama yesterday evening.

Remaining faithful to the same eleven that had begun both of their previous matches in this competition, Kashiwa started the match in confident fashion – clearly buoyed by the occasion and the penalty shootout victory over Mexican side Monterrey in the quarter-finals.

But they were given an early warning of the creative weapons at the South Americans’ disposal when a defensive mix-up allowed Neymar to steal in and hit the post after just five minutes, and it was the 19-year-old wonderboy who soon opened the scoring for Santos in typically extravagant style.

Collecting a pass some 30 yards from goal, Neymar deceived Reysol captain Hidekazu Otani with a clever piece of footwork to switch the ball from his right to left boot, before curling a perfect shot well beyond the reach of Takanori Sugeno and into the top corner of the net.

The action had little time to settle down thereafter before the lead was doubled in no less impressive fashion by Borges. The mid-season arrival from Grêmio, who had a successful spell in Japan with Vegalta Sendai back in 2006, turned inside Kashiwa centre-backs Naoya Kondo and Tatsuya Masushima and created just enough space to bend home a right-footed effort from inside the D.

Kashiwa boss Nelsinho Baptista, who both played for and managed Santos, responded by introducing Hideaki Kitajima for Masato Kudo at half-time. Although the Brazilians appeared to remain in total control at the onset of the second period, the ‘home’ side gained a sudden and unexpected lifeline on 53 minutes.

Jorge Wagner struck a characteristically accurate outswinging corner from the left, and Sakai soared above the opposing defenders to head comfortably past Rafael Cabral.

But their deficit was restored to two just nine minutes later when Ryoichi Kurisawa conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal. This time it was defender Danilo’s turn to show off his skills, expertly sending the ball low around the outside of the wall but turning sharply back to bounce inside the unsighted Sugeno’s left-hand post.

Kashiwa refused to give up the fight, however, and were unfortunate not to score a quarter of an hour from time when Masakatsu Sawa struck the post from a narrow angle. The substitute really ought to have then found the target six minutes later but volleyed over from four yards when a Leandro Domingues cross had left him with an empty net at his mercy.

Nelsinho appeared satisfied with his charges after the match, commenting: “My team became J. League champions just 11 days ago and today was our third match since then, yet we were still able to create a lot of goalscoring opportunities. For us, this tournament has been a very good experience and we still have a match to come to decide third place.

“I think we have shown that Japanese football is really growing and developing, and the young players are especially developing very quickly.”


Despite being repeatedly frustrated by a well-drilled Al-Sadd back line for the opening 25 minutes of their semi-final, European champions Barcelona were able to take advantage of a catastrophic mix-up between goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr and left-back Nadir Belhadj to finally take the lead through Adriano.

The former Sevilla man added a second just before the interval, before second half goals from Seydou Keita and Maxwell completed a comfortable 4-0 victory – which was nonetheless overshadowed by a broken leg for the unfortunate David Villa.

Al-Sadd skipper Abdulla Koni offered his thoughts to Football Japan as his side look to put the defeat behind them and prepare for Sunday’s meeting with Kashiwa.

“Everybody makes mistakes. But today, God said we would make a mistake like this and we would lose like this. Times are good. We want to win and we lost, but for everything God gave you, you have to say thanks. Thanks for my players; they played very hard, they kept our goal safe.

“We will prepare for the (Kashiwa) game like we prepared for today’s game because we respect all of the teams. And if any team doesn’t respect us, it’s their mistake. But we will respect all teams and we will try our best to improve. Because we have some young players, it is good for them to learn and also to enjoy their lives. Also the Japanese team are very good so we will try to do our best and to be on the podium.”

The Football Japan Minutecast’s Ben Mabley tells the story of Japanese club football through eight previous thrilling title races in Issue Three of The Blizzard. Visit for details.

FIFA Club World Cup semi-final results
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 1
-3 Santos (BRA)
Al-Sadd (QAT) 0-4 Barcelona (ESP)

posted by Ben Mabley at 16:04 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする




・マイブログの【設定】 > 【広告設定】 より、「60日間更新が無い場合」 の 「広告を表示しない」にチェックを入れて保存する。