An early goal by Brazilian superstar Neymar proved to be the undoing of the Samurai Blue as Japan fell 3-0 to the host country in the opening game of the Confederations Cup on Saturday. Despite showing signs of brilliance later on in the match, two more second-half goals by Paulinho and Jo sealed Japan's fate as they made their fifth appearance in the competition which is seen as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup finals in 2014.
Midfielder Shinji Kagawa admitted that “playing hard until the final whistle and not giving up” are as important as “natural ability” in football. Kagawa said he is building on the “valuable experience” he realized through “tough games at home and away” for the 2014 World Cup. Knowing what he has learned and what the Japan national team can do, the 24-year old midfielder is focused on bringing results.
With only a few days remaining until the Confederations Cup, all eyes are on Shinji Kagawa. The Manchester United midfielder is expected to help the Japan side, which is set to play an opening game against defending champion Brazil, a team Japan is yet to defeat, this Saturday. Albeit missing two months of play because of knee injury sustained during the Champions League, Kagawa expects nothing less of himself.
Japan may have already qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with their draw with Australia last week, but that doesn't mean they already plan to sit pretty. The Samurai Blue still have one more mission and that is to give the Iraqi football team a difficult time on Tuesday in their final qualifier match to avenge the "Agony of Doha".
A day after Japan became the first country to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Samurai Blue named the same 23-man squad that drew with Australia Monday night to take part in the Confederations Cup this June, also to be held in Brazil. Led by CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda and Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, the team looks to this tournament as a test of their readiness for 2014.
Japan's Men's National Football Team will find out if talismanic playmaker Keisuke Honda will be able to play 48 hours before they face Australia in their World Cup qualifying match against Australia on Tuesday. He has had an injury-plagued season with his club, Russian side CSKA Moscow and is still unsure if he will be able to lead Japan to their 5th consecutive World Cup finals.
When the J-League debuted in 1993, little did they know that football would become a big hit in baseball-obsessed Japan. But not only did the league make sports fan fall in love with the sport, it was also a trailblazer for Asian football. But while expensive foreign players proliferated the league then, today the J-League has become a source of local talent for European clubs and this is where world-class Japanese football players' talents are honed.
Japan national men's football team coach Alberto Zaccheroni has named a strong 26-man squad for the remaining World Cup qualifying matches against Australia on June 4 and Iraq on June 11. Despite being six points clear at the top of Group B, he is still fielding a full-strength team for the two games.
Borussia Dortmund’s manager Jurgen Klopp says that he is saddened by Japanese international midfielder Shinji Kagawa’s apparent misuse at Manchester United that it brings tears to his eyes. United, recently crowned English Premier League champions, had bought Kagawa last summer from Dortmund’s title-winning team to fill a known gap in the team’s midfield, but Kagawa has been relegated to a bit-part this season, because of injury and an array of attacking talent at United.
As Robin van Persie smashed in his third and final goal of the night against that started from a sublime through ball from Manchester United attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese international can begin to enjoy his first taste of English Premier League glory – a league title on his first season – and maybe start to develop a hunger for more to follow this first one.