Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Asian Cup 2011: Five tactical observations

There may have been comical goalkeeping, half-empty stadiums and a ticketing fiasco that marred the final, but the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar was also able to boast some fine football and a handful of breath-taking matches. Football Further looks at some of the tactical points of interest at the 15th edition of Asia’s showpiece tournament.

1. Barcelona have some devoted disciples in East Asia
Qatar’s French coach Bruno Metsu described Japan as “the Barcelona of Asia” after their 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia in the group phase, but the description could just as easily have been applied to South Korea. Both sides pressed the opposition high up the pitch, harrying defenders into conceding possession and constructing attacks based on rapid inter-changes of passes. “When we attack, just like Japan, we go forward and create chances at a high tempo,” said South Korea coach Cho Kwang-Rae prior to the last-four meeting between the sides.

Japan’s high defensive line got them into trouble on occasion – most notably when Sebastián Soria broke the offside trap to put Qatar 1-0 up in their quarter-final – but their football was very pleasing on the eye. Ji Dong-Won’s second goal for South Korea in the third-place play-off win against Uzbekistan, meanwhile, was as slick a strike as almost anything Barcelona have produced this season.

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Report: South Korea pay penalty as Japan reach Asian Cup final

“DOHA — Jubilant three-time champions Japan reached the Asian Cup final after defeating arch-rivals South Korea 3-0 in a nail-biting penalty shootout on Tuesday.”

Read my AFP match report here.

World Cup scouting: Keisuke Honda (Japan)

Japan coach Takeshi Okada’s stated aim of taking the Blue Samurai to the World Cup semi-finals has taken a bit of a battering in recent months, with an underwhelming run of results culminating in Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to a second-string Serbia side in a friendly game in Osaka.

“We can expect nothing from his team at the World Cup, to say nothing about reaching the last four,” warned Japanese TV commentator Sergio Echigo ahead of the game. “The national team is facing a crisis.”

Thank goodness, then, for Keisuke Honda.

With Shunsuke Nakamura’s career on the wane after a disappointing spell at Espanyol prompted an unscheduled return to formative club Yokohama Marinos, the stage is set for Honda to become the new golden boy of Japanese football. The 23-year-old playmaker arrived in Europe in January 2008 when he joined Dutch side VVV-Venlo. Relegated from the Eredivisie in Honda’s first season, VVV bounced straight back up in 2008-2009, with Honda plundering 16 goals in 36 matches and being named the second division’s player of the year in the process.

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