Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eddy Bosnar will always be 'Big in Japan'

Eddy Bosnar.
It's a long way from Fairfield to Mount Fuji, but Eddy Bosnar is not your average footballer. After spells in Croatia, Austria, England and Holland, the tall Australian defender has finally made a home for himself at one of Japan’s most popular clubs, Shimizu S-Pulse.

A cult hero on the terraces at Shimizu’s compact Outsourcing Nihondaira Stadium, Bosnar has worked hard to win over fans since his switch from Chiba-based J. League rivals JEF United. “My form has been OK as I worked very hard in the pre-season and also while I was back in Australia for my Christmas holidays,” the defender told Soccerphile. “The system we play at S-Pulse has also helped as it is easy to adapt to and the players are of great quality.”

By no means a certain starter when he arrived in Shimizu, Bosnar had to fight with three other central defenders for a place in coach Kenta Hasegawa’s starting eleven.

But his all-action style and passionate displays have won over fans, and his cause has been helped by a couple of spectacular long-range goals – including a 40 metre free-kick against Kyoto Sanga. “I stay back at training on Wednesdays, Thursdays and maybe even Fridays to get the distance and power right for the weekend,” Bosnar said of a powerful free-kick technique which leaves opposition defenders begging for mercy.

It’s clear the much-travelled defender has a strong work ethic, but life in Japan hasn’t always been easy for a player who started out at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Lured to the Land Of The Rising Sun by his former Dinamo Zagreb coach Josip Kuze, Bosnar saw the Croatian tactician sacked just four months into his reign at JEF United. New coach Alex Miller was a fan of the aggressive defender, but the Glaswegian was unable to halt JEF’s slide into the second tier, and when the Chiba outfit were finally relegated in 2009, Bosnar jumped shipped to one of their biggest rivals. Standing in the shadows of the towering Mount Fuji, Shimizu’s atmospheric home ground is bursting to its 20,000 capacity on matchdays as fans clamour to see their side battle with the likes of Kashima Antlers and Urawa Reds.

“The fans at S-Pulse are fantastic, home games are great and really enjoyable for everyone. Bosnar said. “I have had family and friends visit and they think it is electrifying.” Shimizu are one of just five clubs to have played every season in the top flight, but so far a first ever J. League title has eluded them.

The club will forever be linked to one of the most dramatic moments in J. League history, losing the 1999 championship playoff on penalties to local rivals Jubilo Iwata and prompting English coach Steve Perryman to break down in tears on the bench. Shimizu are hoping to avoid similar heartache this time around, but even if the popular side miss out on the title, they still have qualification for the AFC Champions League to fight for – a competition Bosnar believes is increasing in relevance.

“I think that the Asian Champions League is the best thing that could happen to football in Asia,” he said.

“The biggest problem is that most clubs and fans support the domestic league more so sometimes you get half full stadiums. Although it is getting more significant to the football followers in Asia.” Winning plaudits, scoring goals and doing so in front of an adoring public; given his personal success in Japan, would Bosnar recommend the J. League to fellow Australian players? “Firstly, Japan is a great place to live so every player would enjoy being here. Also, the league is of high quality, the players are true professionals and the facilities are fantastic,” he said. “All you have to do is train and play well week in, week out and you could make a great career over here. If any players regardless of age get a chance to play in Japan they should accept the offer, that’s my tip.”

His name regularly rings out and the Australian flag flies high on the terraces of Outsourcing Nihondaira Stadium, but if Bosnar can help Shimizu S-Pulse land the J. League title they so desperately crave, club officials could be tempted to erect a statue of the lanky defender in the main street of town.

After all, he may be a giant in the Shimizu back four, but it's not every day an Australian footballer gets 'Big in Japan.'

Michael Tuckerman

Monday, September 27, 2010

J. League Results September 26 2010

Japan.
Sunday 26 September

FC Tokyo 0 Omiya Ardija 1
Vissel Kobe 0 Cerezo Osaka 0

Saturday 25 September

Shimizu S-Pulse 1 Nagoya Grampus 5
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1 Kashima Antlers 1
Montedio Yamagata 1 Shonan Bellmare 1
Urawa Reds 2 Albirex Niigata 0
Kyoto Sanga 0 Jubilo Iwata 1
Kawasaki Frontale 1 Gamba Osaka 2
Yokohama F Marinos 0 Vegalta Sendai 1


The highest attendance was 31,973 at Urawa.


J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 24 Pts 51
Kashima Antlers P 24 Pts 44
Gamba Osaka P 24 Pts 43
Cerezo Osaka P 24 Pts 41
Shimizu S-Pulse P 24 Pts 40
Kawasaki Frontale P 24 Pts 38
Yokohama F Marinos 24 Pts 38

J. League Results September 26 2010.



Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 13
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo 12
Cho Young Cheol, Albirex Niigata 11
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 11
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 11
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 10



Previous J. League Results

J.League News

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Qatar Stars League Week Two

Qatar Sports Club on top

QSL.
Qatar Sports Club overcame Al Khor 5-3 to top the Qatar Stars League, on goal difference, at the end of the second week's games.

Qatar SC's Sebastian Soria opened the scoring in the 24th minute, but Al Khor soon attained parity through an Alan Bahia penalty (31st min). However Qatar's Brazilian forward Marcinho Marcio Oliveira increased the lead for the home side just a minute away from half-time.

If one expected the two sides to start the second half cautiously, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Although both teams played a fast-paced attacking game, it was Qatar SC who scored the next two goals. Qatar's Iraqi midfielder Qusai Muneer (3-1) and Sebastian Soria (4-1) increased the lead for the home side in the 49th and 70th minutes respectively.

Al Khor hit back twice in six minutes, through Ribero and Alan Bahia in the 76th and 80th minutes, to make it 4-3. However they paid the price for a moment's distraction while pushing for an equaliser. Qatar SC's Ivorian forward Dibi Lacina, who was left unmarked, finished the proceedings with a fine strike (5-3).

Umm Salal, who entered the semifinals of the AFC Champions League last year, scored a tough come-from behind victory against Al Wakra. The game was also interesting as it was Al Wakra captain Aziz ben Askar's first game against his former club. The Moroccan was at his best, but Umm Salal seemed the fitter team on field.

Al Wakra's Moroccan forward Youness Hawassi put them ahead in the 24th minute. They stoutly defended the lead, but could not deny Dhahi Al Noobi from equalising in the 46th minute. With little warning, Brazilian Davi Jose Silva produced his magic to score the winner (85th).

The forward has changed tremendously in his second season with the club. He has become more aggressive, which bodes well for the side. Umm Salal has great potential and this could be their season.

Al Arabi, who won the season-opening Sheikh Jassim Cup tournament, overcame minnows Al Kharaitiyat 2-0. To their credit, Kharaitiyat put up a valiant show in the first half and denied their fancied opponents a chance to score until the 55th minute. Leonardo Pisculichi, one of the few Argentinians playing in the Qatar Stars League, scored the opening goal in the 52nd while Waleed Hamza scored the second (86th).

Brazilian Klemerson De Araugo (13th) and Iraqi Younis Mahmoud (23th) helped defending champions Al Gharafa overcome newcomers Lakhwiya. They will however have to toil hard if they are to entertain hopes of winning the Qatar Stars League for the third time in a row.

In other games, Al Sadd defeated Al Sailiya 1-0 while Emir's Cup winners Al Rayyan scored a 2-0 win over Al Ahli.

RESULTS

Al Arabi 2 Al Kharaitiyat 0
Qatar SC 5 Al Khor 3
Umm Salal 2 Al Wakra 1
Al Sadd 1 Al Sailiya 0
Al Gharafa 2 Lakhwiya 0
Al Rayyan 2 Al Ahli 0

Taita T.S

Previous Qatar Stars League Results

World Cup Posters

Saturday, September 25, 2010

George's Premiership Predictions September 25

George got 4 results right and no perfect scores last week.

Manchester City 2 v Chelsea 1
Arsenal 3 v WBA 1
Birmingham 2 v Wigan Athletic 1
Blackpool 1 v Blackburn 1
Fulham 1 v Everton 0
Liverpool 1 v Sunderland 1
West Ham Utd 1 v Tottenham 2


Bolton 1 v Man Utd 1
Wolves 0 v Aston Villa 0
Newcastle 2 v Stoke City 0

Previous week's George Predictions

Monday, September 20, 2010

J. League Results September 19 2010

J. League Results September 19 2010.
Sunday 19 September

Vegalta Sendai 2 Montedio Yamagata 0
Albirex Niigata 1 Kyoto Sanga 1

Saturday 18 September

Shonan Bellmare 1 Kawasaki Frontale 6
Urawa Reds 1 Shimizu S-Pulse 1
Gamba Osaka 3 Cerezo Osaka 2
Nagoya Grampus 1 Yokohama F Marinos 1
Jubilo Iwata 2 FC Tokyo 1
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1 Vissel Kobe 1
Kashima Antlers 3 Omiya Ardija 0

The highest attendance was 38,909 at Urawa.


J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 23 Pts 48
Kashima Antlers P 23 Pts 43
Cerezo Osaka P 23 Pts 40
Gamba Osaka P 23 Pts 40
Shimizu S-Pulse P 23 Pts 40
Kawasaki Frontale P 23 Pts 38
Yokohama F Marinos 23 Pts 38


Leading Scorers

Cho Young Cheol, Albirex Niigata 11
Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 11
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 11
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo 11
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 11
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 10



Previous Results

J.League News

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Qatar Stars League Week 1

Al Sadd start with a bang!

QSL.
Al Sadd are desperate for silverware after two years without a single title at the domestic and international levels. The team signed three players who competed in the recently-concluded World Cup in South Africa — Ivorian Abdul Kader Keita, Algerian Nadir Belhadj and South Korean Lee Jung-Soo.

The club's campaign got off to a roaring start when they defeated last season's Emir's Cup winners and arch-rivals Al Rayyan 1-0 in front of packed audiences and FIFA’s inspectors for the Qatar 2022 Bid.

The game lived up to expectations as Qatar’s derby-event. Both teams employed an open-ended and heavily attacking style of football. Keita, always dangerous, did not disappoint his new employers. Although he missed some opportunities early on, he made no mistakes in heading in the ball just before the end of first half. Although it looked like an off-side, and Al Rayyan players protested, the referee let it stand.

Al Rayyan players too offered glimpses of their attacking depth. They are a formidable side and along with holder Al Gharafa and Umm Salal will make the Qatar Stars League much more exciting than in previous seasons.

Qatar Stars League newcomers Lakhwiya left fans stunned with a clinical 4-0 dismantling of minnows Al Sailiya. The club has invested heavily in local and overseas players. Striker Mohammed Razzaq scored all four goals (56th, 59th, 62nd and 89th). Al Saililiya looked tough nuts to crack in the first half, but were rendered useless in the second. They seemed to have given up after conceding the first goal.

AFC Champions League semifinalists Umm Salal conceded a late goal and drew 2-2 with Al Arabi. Earlier, they had come back strongly from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead. Al Arabi went ahead through Everaldo Pereira but Umm Salal hit back through Davi Jose and Gabri Garcia. Argentinian Leonardo Pisulichi equalised for Al Arabi.

Qatar international Sebastian Soria scored twice to help Qatar SC win 3-2 against lowly Al Kharaitiyat. Soria put his side ahead in the 10th but Al Kharaitiyat equalised soon through Yahia Kiepi. He scored again three minutes later, against the run of play, to put his team 2-1 ahead. Soria, who displayed erratic form, equalised for his side in the 55th. Brazilian Marcio Oliveira ended the game in Qatar SC’s favour with a solid strike in the 81st.
In the last game of the first week, Al Khor drew Al Wakra goalless.

RESULTS
Al Sadd 1 Al Rayyan 0
Al Arabi 2 Umm Salal 2
Lakhwiya 4 Al Sailiya 0
Qatar SC 3 Al Kharaitiyat 2
Al Wakra 0 Al Khor 0

World Cup Posters

Friday, September 17, 2010

George's Premiership Predictions Sept 18

Stoke 2 v West Ham 1

Aston Villa 2 v Bolton 2

Blackburn 2 v Fulham 1

Everton 1 v Newcastle 0

Tottenham 3 v Wolverhampton 0

West Brom 1 v Birmingham 1

Sunderland 2 v Arsenal 2

Man Utd 1 v Liverpool 1

Wigan 0 v Man City 1

Chelsea 2 v Blackpool 0

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fifa World Rankings 15 September 2010

Fifa World Rankings 15 September 2010.
Fifa's World Rankings came out today. World Cup winners Spain remain in top spot followed by The Netherlands, Germany and Brazil down to 4th place!

England are in 6th place, one adrift of Argentina who are in 5th.

Egypt is the highest African team in 9th. The USA is 18th. Russia and Switzerland drop out of the top 20 teams in the world.


1 Spain
2 Netherlands
3 Germany
4 Brazil
5 Argentina
6 England
7 Uruguay
8 Portugal
9 Egypt
10 Chile
11 Croatia
12 Greece
13 Italy
14 Norway
15 Serbia
16 Slovakia
17 Paraguay
18 USA
19 Slovenia
20 Ghana

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Soccer Books & DVDs

Monday, September 13, 2010

K-League Clubs Make History

K-League Clubs Make History.
Asian football history will be made this Wednesday with South Korea at the heart of it all. The Land of the Morning Calm is supplying 50% of the eight teams still involved in the Asian Champions League as the continental competition resumes at the quarterfinal stage after a break of four months.

Much has happened since the second round came to a close in May, not least the 2010 World Cup. Nothing like this, one nation supplying the maximum four teams possible, has happened before however.

East and South-East Asia supplied 16 of the 32 teams that started out in the competition back in February. The four teams each from Japan and China have fallen by the wayside as have representatives from Australia, Indonesia and Singapore. Only Korea remains as the K-League looks for a ninth championship and East Asia for a fifth in succession.

Now, with the final in sight, the continent is no longer split into east and west. After the group stage and the one-off match of the second round, the quarter and semi-finals are two-legged affairs.

Defending Asian champions Pohang Steelers and defending Korean champions Jeonbuk Motors will face long trips to West Asia over the next week. Not Seongnam Ilhwa or Suwon Bluewings though. Most eyes in Korea will be on the clash between the Gyeonggi giants who become the first all-Korean participants of an Asian tie since Jeonbuk and Ulsan met at the semi-final stage of the 2006 tournament.

It promises to be quite a clash, both at Seongnam’s Tancheon Stadium on Wednesday and in the second leg at Suwon World Cup Stadium a week later. A few months ago, Seongnam, would have been the overwhelming favorites to progress to the last four for the third time in seven years but much has changed over the summer.

To be more accurate, Suwon have changed. The team now bears little resemblance to the soporific and sluggish side that sank to the bottom of the K-League in the first half of the season. With loss after loss in the domestic game, coach Cha Bum-keun, regarded as the greatest Asian soccer player of the 20th century, called it a day in June.

His replacement Yoon Sung-hyo has, so far, been a revelation. Seven wins and two ties, a record marred only by last weekend’s loss at the hands of leaders Jeju United, have seen the Bluewings soar from bottom to seventh place in the league.
New signing Naohiro Takahara is starting to score and the former Japanese international in joined in attacked by the returning Shin Young-rok. With Kim Doo-hyun and Baek Ji-hoon looking like their former selves in midfield, Suwon fans are confident of upsetting Seongnam.

In Asian terms that would be something of a shock. Seongnam were much more impressive in the Champions League earlier this season and is still going well in the league with six wins from its last ten matches. Coach Shin Tae-yong is looking to become the first man to win the Asian Champions League as both coach and player after lifting the trophy with the same club back in 1996.

"Suwon has a strong forward and midfield line-up …and the team condition of Suwon looks very good and it is also playing well. But we don’t need to worry about this. We will prepare well and win.” said Shin to the official homepage of the Asian Football Confederation.

“Every K-League club has a keen desire to play in the Champions League. They want to win the prize money and they want to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. So they prepare a lot for the competition. I think this is the main reason why four K-League clubs could reach the last eight this year.”

Pohang Steelers won the competition last year for a record third time and despite the team’s poor form at home; they have made it into the last eight once again. The first leg is a long trek to the home of Iran’s league leaders Zob Ahan. It is the first time that the hosts have made it this far but after the Iranian national team won 1-0 in Seoul last week in an international friendly, Pohang will be taking nothing for granted.

The third Korean match sees Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia travel to Jeonju to face Jeonbuk Motors. It is the first West Asian opposition for the Greens since the final of the 2006 tournament in which they defeated Al Karama of Syria. Jeonbuk will be favorites to progress to the last four despite a poor showing last Friday as they lost 3-1 at home to Gangwon FC. Last, and for Koreans, least, is the all West Asian clash between Saudi Arabian powerhouse AL Hilal and Qatar's Al Gharafa.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

J. League Results September 12 2010

J. League Results September 12 2010.
Sunday 12 September

Montedio Yamagata 0 Nagoya Grampus 1
FC Tokyo 0 Urawa Reds 1

Saturday 11 September

Albirex Niigata 1 Gamba Osaka 2
Omiya Ardija 3 Shimizu S-Pulse 0
Cerezo Osaka 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1
Kashima Antlers 1 Vegalta Sendai 0
Kyoto Sanga 3 Vissel Kobe 0
Yokohama F Marinos 3 Kawasaki Frontale 1
Jubilo Iwata 3 Shonan Bellmare 2


J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 22 Pts 47
Cerezo Osaka P 22 Pts 40
Kashima Antlers P 22 Pts 40
Shimizu S-Pulse P 22 Pts 39
Gamba Osaka P 22 Pts 37
Yokohama F Marinos 22 Pts 37
Kawasaki Frontale P 22 Pts 35

Leading Scorers

Cho Young Cheol, Albirex Niigata 11
Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 11
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 10
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 10
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 10



Previous Results

J.League News

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nagoya Grampus hoping to make history

Nagoya Grampus hoping to make history.
When infielder Masahiko Morino popped up a sacrifice fly to edge Chunichi Dragons past Yokohama Baystars and into first place in Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League overnight, he ensured Nagoya's two major sporting teams currently top their respective leagues.

The Dragons last won the Japan Series in 2007, in a year in which their footballing counterparts struggled to make an impact - ultimately limping into a miserable eleventh-placed finish in the J. League.

Much has changed since then, with Nagoya Grampus dropping the "Eight" from their name and appointing legendary former midfielder Dragan Stojkovic as coach in January 2008. His team has been on an upward trajectory ever since, and Nagoya residents are now dreaming of an unlikely double for their baseball and football stars.

The J. League resumes this weekend with Grampus facing an uncomfortable trip north to the rugged, rural hills of Yamagata, and Stojkovic will be desperate to see his side add to the 14 victories they've claimed from 21 league games played so far.

But despite their lofty position in the table, it's difficult to envisage Nagoya Grampus as the best team in Japan. They may have won 14 times already, but they've lost virtually every marquee fixture they've played.

A 3-2 home defeat to Kawasaki Frontale was replicated by a 2-1 defeat on the road at Urawa Reds, and when Nagoya hosted defending champions Kashima Antlers, the Ibaraki side crushed Stojkovic's men 4-1. A subsequent trip to Todoroki Stadium saw Kawasaki swat them aside in a humiliating 4-0 loss, and Nagoya thrice gave up the lead in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Tokai rivals Shimizu S-Pulse.

Worse yet for Nagoya fans, they still have big guns Shimizu S-Pulse and Kashima Antlers to face again, while surprise package Cerezo Osaka are currently lying second and itching to avenge a 1-0 defeat to Nagoya earlier the season, when the two sides meet at Toyota Stadium on October 30.

Should Nagoya slip up, Cerezo are currently the best-placed side to take advantage, however provincial heavyweights Shimizu S-Pulse are level on points with Cerezo and just five points behind the league-leading Grampus.

Like fellow title chasers Nagoya and Cerezo, Shimizu have never won the J. League title, and coach Kenta Hasegawa is desperate to collect some silverware on the back of a fruitless five-year stint in charge.

Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale are lurking just behind the trophy-hungry S-Pulse, but after three years of utter Kashima dominance, J. League fans could be forgiven for hoping to see a different name on the trophy this season.

At the other end of the table, yo-yo club Kyoto Sanga and the hapless Shonan Bellmare look doomed, but the fight to avoid the third relegation place could boil down to a four-way tussle.

Omiya Ardija, Vissel Kobe, Vegalta Sendai and incredibly FC Tokyo are all locked on 21 points going into the resumption of league football, with none of the four showing signs that they're capable of skipping clear of the bottom three any time soon.

Kashiwa Reysol are streaking away with the J2 title, but the battle for the remaining promotion places could be a three-horse race between Ventforet Kofu, JEF United and Avispa Fukuoka in the J. League's second tier.

League Cup
An all-Shizuoka League Cup final remains a possibility after Shimizu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata both scraped through to the semi-finals of this year's competition.

Shimizu edged past defending champions FC Tokyo on the away goals rule after the pair drew 1-1 in Tokyo, before playing out a scoreless draw at Nihondaira Stadium.

Jubilo Iwata knocked out Vegalta Sendai, while Kawasaki Frontale impressively dispatched Kashima Antlers and Sanfrecce Hiroshima knocked out Gamba Osaka, with Japan's four AFC Champions League representatives parachuting into the tournament at the quarter-final stage.

The first leg of the semi-finals will be held on September 29, with Jubilo Iwata hosting Kawasaki Frontale and Sanfrecce Hiroshima welcoming Shimizu S-Pulse to Big Arch Stadium.

Emperor's Cup
There's always one every season, and this year it was the turn of Vegalta Sendai to suffer the embarrassment of going out to a lower-tier side in the second round of the Emperor's Cup.

To make matters worse for Vegalta coach Makoto Teguramori, it was city rivals Sony Sendai who knocked his team out, with the Japan Football League side triumphing in extra-time over a Vegalta outfit who reached the semi-finals last season.

Elsewhere, the only other major casualty was embattled J2 side Tokyo Verdy, who went out at the hands of neighbours Machida Zelvia.

The third round kicks off on October 9, with Sony Sendai hosting Cerezo Osaka, while JFL side Machida Zelvia face a daunting trip to Big Swan Stadium to take on Albirex Niigata.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Euro 2012 Qualifying Matches 7 Sept

In yesterday's round of Euro 2012 qualifying games Portugal lost in Norway, while France put their qualification back on track with a win on the road in Sarajevo against Bosnia.

The Netherlands won 2-1 in Rotterdam against Finland, England won 3-1 in Switzerland and Italy hit 5 in Florence against the hapless Faroe Islands.

Scotland squeezed past Liechtenstein at Hampden in Group I, Ireland won in Dublin 3-1 against Andorra but Slovakia caused an upset with a 1-0 win in Moscow versus Russia.

Previous Euro 2012 qualifying results

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'Hara's Heroes' hint at 'Zac Japan' to come

Hara's Heroes hint at Zac Japan to come.
In the end, interim Japan coach Hiromi Hara's greatest concern was whether it might be too hot to wear a tie on the touchline.

The former Urawa Reds and FC Tokyo coach and current Japan Football Association technical director ultimately opted for a snappy grey number, and he had every reason to be relaxed going into Japan's Kirin Cup clash with Paraguay at a sold-out Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.

Hara took charge on a caretaker basis for the two-match series against Paraguay and Guatemala, however Alberto Zaccheroni was the real star of the show after it was revealed late last month that he would take over as Japan's new coach.

Visa constraints forced Zaccheroni to watch the clash with Paraguay from high in the stands along with 65,157 fans on a hot evening in the famous port city, and the Italian will have been delighted with what he saw as a goal from Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired Japan to an entertaining 1-0 victory.

The match was a rematch of Japan's heartbreaking Round of 16 penalty shoot-out defeat to Paraguay at the recent World Cup, and Samurai Blue fans must be wondering why Kagawa did not travel to South Africa after he turned in a virtuoso display in midfield.

The 21-year-old scored the only goal of the game following an incisive pass from playmaker Kengo Nakamura, who threaded an inch-perfect ball into the path of the on-rushing Kagawa, and he took one touch before firing an unerring finish beyond Justo Villar in the Paraguayan goal.


Alberto Zaccheroni


The slightly-built ex-Cerezo Osaka star wasn't the only Japanese player in good form, as Lierse SK goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima pulled off a series of impressive saves to deny the powerful Paraguay attack.

The display left Zaccheroni beaming as Japan's fluid one-touch football thrilled the capacity crowd on hand, although the ease with which Paraguay ploughed through a porous back four will nevertheless give the much-travelled tactician some cause for concern.

Japan's next Kirin Cup clash is against Central American minnows Guatemala at Nagai Stadium in Osaka on Tuesday night, and with the feel-good factor having returned to Japanese football following their surprise showing in South Africa, officials can expect another big crowd to turn out for the affable Hara's second and final match in charge.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

Saturday, September 4, 2010

2012 European Championships Sept 3 Matches

In an exiting round of Euro 2012 qualifying games, the shock of the evening's games was France's 1-0 home loss to Belarus in Group D.

The most exciting match was Portugal's 4-4 draw with Cyprus in Guimaraes, where the visitors came back to gain a last-gasp point.

The big teams, with the exception of France, all had comfortable wins: world champions Spain cruised to a 4-0 win in Liechtenstein, the Netherlands won 5-0 away in San Marino, England defeated Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley behind a Jermaine Defoe hat-trick, and Italy came from behind to beat Estonia 1-2.

Scotland were held 0-0 by Lithuania in Group I, Ireland defeated Armenia away 1-0 in Group B, Wales lost 1-0 to Montenegro in Group G and Northern Ireland won on the road against Slovenia 1-0 in Group C.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trautmann's Journey Free Giveaway

Bert Trautmann's incredible life story is covered in the book Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend by Catrine Clay (published by Yellow Jersey Press). The book can be purchased through Amazon, costing £16.99.

One lucky Soccerphile reader can win a copy of the book, signed by the author, by answering this question.

Bert Trautmann broke which part of his anatomy in the 1956 FA Cup Final?

a) Foot b) Neck c) Ankle
Contact us to email your answer with the title "Trautmann" as the subject of the email

Read more about Bert Trautmann in his own words.