November 17, 2005

Football: Japan 1 Angola 0

Wow...what a great ending! Japan scored in the 90th minute with the only goal of the match. Sixty seconds later it was all over and Japan walked away with a win. It was a friendly match, but as this is the last time that the team will play together in 2005, it was good to end on a high note.

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The stadium was absolutely packed (as should be expected) and the organisers had a huge surprise as Matsuura Aya, a famous singer, belted out the national anthem. A Japanese man sang the Angolan anthem, which seemed a bit odd until I was told there were only 11 Angolans living in Tokyo and only 18 in all of Japan! So, I guess the Angolan population more than doubled when the team arrived here.

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That is Aya in the picture to the left. We were too far away for an actual picture, but they showed here on the video screen, which made her close enough. Actually, the first time I went to the national stadium was to watch Japan play Belgium in one of its world cup matches on that very same screen...they were actually in Nagoya or something. It was amazingly crowded that day too.

I should mention something about the game. Japan had more than a few chances early on but hit the woodwork...it easily could have been 2-0 at halftime. The ball just would not go in. And Angola was playing a cautious game, keeping their back five near midfield even when on the attack. They never really threatened. And it looked like it would end 0-0 until Matsui headed the ball in at the 90th minute.

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Amazing...as you can see, we were really happy afterwards. That is my colleague Urasaki-san...and again with me. Kaz was also there, but he was not nearly as exuberant. And Ryo joined us for the second half, but he watched from the tunnel where it was warmer!

Also Australia beat Uruguay and will be going to Germany next summer. I wanted to watch that match but could not get away from work for the 530pm start time. How cool will that be if they are drawn into the same group as England? Should be interesting...we'll know in December.

Posted by Kirk at 12:15 AM | Comments (3)

November 07, 2005

There is some good news

With everything going on, I forgot to mention that my hopeful punt for tickets to the Japan friendly match against Angola next week came through! A very pleasant surprise, especially as I had missed the e-mail telling me about it.

In case you forgot, Japan will be playing at the National Stadium, so it is super easy to get over there after work. And I have nothing on my schedule that day, so I should be able to avoid a mad rush to get out and get over there. I am looking forward to it...

Posted by Kirk at 07:52 PM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2005

For English football fans

_40776078_davidhealy203.jpg After losing 1-0 to Northern Ireland, what are your chances against football powers like Austria and Poland? Football365 says fans were chanting "are you Scotland in disguise", which would be funny except for the fact they won 2-0 vs Norway.

I guess all that debate about playing a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 was meaningless. Now it's time to discuss Sven - should he stay or should he go? Here is the lineup the US used to beat Mexico and qualify for the World Cup. Just in case you need someone to support next year in Germany.

18-Kasey Keller
2-Frankie Hejduk
22-Oguchi Onyewu
3-Gregg Berhalter
7-Eddie Lewis
19-Steve Ralston (23-Santino Quaranta, 81)
10-Claudio Reyna (capt.)
14-Chris Armas
17-DaMarcus Beasley
21-Landon Donovan (25-Pablo Mastroeni, 74)
20-Brian McBride (11-Jeff Cunningham, 90 )
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

0908 003.jpg By the way, Japan came from 0-2 down to beat Honduras 5-4 in their friendly. There were so many goals, my head was spinning! Or was that the football? It was good anyway. Here is one of the girls at the bar and her Japan-supporting dog. The US plays its meaningless WC qualifier in a few hours. Coach Arena has sent many of the regulars back to their teams and will field newcomers to give them some match experience. What a luxury.

Posted by Kirk at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

And Yeovil pick up their first win of the season

Wow...good day for sports results. Yeovil also won Saturday, their first in League One. They are still bottom of the table, but only by goal differential. A few more results like this and they should be moving up a few spots.

For more on the game and the trouble of following English football from outside England, I suggest you go here. I imagine Arizona is a football wasteland, but he does an admirable job of keeping everything up to date and interesting.

Posted by Kirk at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

US secures world cup berth!

capt.ohca10309040121.mexico_us_soccer_ohca103 The US beat Mexico 2-0 to clinch their place in Germany next year. This is the first time since 1934 that the US was the first team in the Central and North America to qualify. What does that mean? Well...nothing really, but it sounds nice, even though Ukraine also secured its world cup finals spot last night, which puts it in context.

Let me be the first person in 2005 to pose the question on whether the US could win the whole thing in Germany. I imagine there will be a lot of that over the next year, just like their was in 2002 when the US beat Portugal to start tongues wagging. I don't think so - they are not playing European teams enough to get the experience they need, although it is good that more Americans are playing overseas. Then again, if Greece can win the European championship...

I will settle for knocking the Germans out to avenge the un-desereved win against the US in 2002. And I am sure English fans would like that too.

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Speaking of which, the time zone gap with the US works against us (8am start) and there is not much interest in US football (soccer!) in Japan - so it was not televised. Instead, I watched England play out a miserable match with Wales. Joe Cole banged one in off a defender for the only goal (is it me, or is he looking more like Michael Owen every day? - has anyone ever seen them in the same room together?) There were a few other interesting moments, but all in all, it was 90 minutes and two pints that would have been better spent elsewhere.

In any case, there should be lots of lively debate over the next four days about whether England should be running a 4-4-2 instead of the 4-5-1. Considering they have yet to qualify (like the US! like Ukraine! like Japan!), it is an important subject...

Posted by Kirk at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Yeovil - start small, end big

Yeovil had a rough introduction to League One, falling 2-0 to Oldham in their first match after promotion. They let in two goals in a two minute span, which must have been a shock. They play again mid-week, so we will see what happens then. As you will see, Saturday was such a good day, this was only a minor footnote.

Posted by Kirk at 12:08 PM | Comments (2)

July 29, 2005

Another one bites the dust

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Ha! Maybe J League is better than we thought. Following Real Madrid's loss to Tokyo Verdy earlier in the week, Manchester United were taken down by Kashima Antlers last night.

After making a big deal about keeping four clean sheets in China and Hong Kong, they let in two goals here. And that made their inability to find the back of the net more obvious. Apparently, the tension is building as Ruud and Rio had a very public exchange of opinions when they walked off the pitch after the match ("you suck..." "no, YOU suck"). All very entertaining if you like to give Preyash a hard time.

This make me more excited about the Bayern Munich football match we are going to watch this Saturday. It should be good.

Posted by Kirk at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

We are all Tokyo Verdy fans today

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Apparently there is some risk in these "money-spinning" Asia tours by European clubs. Real Madrid learned this the hard way, losing 3-0 to Tokyo Verdy. Tokyo media superstar David Beckham was particularly incensed with Kazuyuki Toda, who he claims was spitting on him. Actually, both of them also accused the other of "kicking" too. Sounds like they almost started playing football.

The on-field hijinks spread to the locker rooms at half-time, when a few of the Real Madrid boys (Beckham, Ronaldo and Michel Salgado)tried to get into the Verdy locker room. They ended up "exchanging a few words".... if taken literally, it likely means all of them have twice the vocabulary they did pre-match.

Anyway, Beckham downplayed the incident later, saying it is "only handbags". That is the English way of saying it was not a real fight, alluding to girls swinging their purses at each other [insert your favourite Preyash comment here]. Then again, it could also mean Posh's influence has spread from Beck's media coverage to the pitch. Losing 3-0 to Tokyo Verdy seems to support that.

Posted by Kirk at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

Real football starts soon. And more signs of WC glory

I am not talking about crap Asian friendlies or the even more crap, over-hyped Premiership with their big-spending ways.

On 6 August, mighty Yeovil kicks off their League One season at Oldham. In fact, they will have three matches under their belt before the top flight players have kicked a football.

More on why 2006 is England's year...

Yeovil are currently on tour in Germany - and followed up their 2-1 win over Preussen Munster with a 2-1 success over a Bayer Leverkusen XI on Friday.

Which seems to be yet ANOTHER sign that 2006 will be England's year. You want another? Chelsea won the league for the first time in fifty years. Subtract ten from that and you get forty...which is just how long it has been since England last won. Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by Kirk at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2005

Going to the football...

One advantage of working for a German company is that you get BIG respect when its the Year of Germany in Japan. I know...I can sense you are jealous already.

Anyway, we were able to get some discounted tickets for the 30 July friendly between Jubilo Iwata and Bayern Munchen. Ok...it is a 7% discount, so maybe we are only talking about 'a little' respect, but that is still better than nothing.

I am not a supporter of either team, so I am not making a statement about anything. (Bring Yeovil out to Japan and you would see some real excitement!), but it should be good to watch live football, so I am looking forward to it. The match is at the national stadium, which is very (very!) close to where I live, making it convenient as well.

I was talking to one of the "actual" Gemans in the office today and he said he would not pay to go see a German team in a friendly because the quality was not very good. (It's a good point in a way...the reason these teams come out to Asia is to make money and the price of my ticket will help them over-pay Oliver Kahn for another year). Anyway, I agree with him, but wonder why he limited his assessment to friendlies?

A little extra on the Japanese challengers can be found in the entended entry...

This is a description of the 2005 Season Club Slogan for Jubilo Iwata. Now you see why I am going? I have an inner compass!

"Rashin - The path to glory" is Jubilo Iwata's club slogan for the 2005 season. This season is a time when national and international competitions are going ahead, and we are preparing to have our total strength as a club challenged. To succeed in such a fiercely competitive season, we need to set our priorities so that we know "what takes precedence over what," and accurately judge a situation that changes by the minute as the season goes by. "Rashin," or compass needle, refers to the direction that needs to be taken by our club. To make our value on playing "world-level football" a reality in situations where difficult and severe choices must be made, this slogan symbolizes the solidarity of the team, the staff, and the supporters as we decide what takes precedence. People affiliated with Jubilo Iwata each have an internal compass and show confidence and a strong will to succeed to go forward to the final stage.
Posted by Kirk at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

What an amazing comeback…

Unlikely Liverpool won the Champions League final with the most incredible comeback I have ever seen. Down 1-0 after 56 seconds and 3-0 after 50 minutes, Liverpool looked completely out of the match.

But they then scored three in eight minutes to equalize. Unfortunately, like the FA Cup Final, a penalty shoot-out was needed to finish the match. And in a very un-English fashion, they won the day.

I went with a friend from the office who happened to be in Prague (!) and his mates to watch it. I am not a Liverpool fan, but I preferred them to Milan. And everyone in the bar we went to supported Liverpool, which made their comeback even more exciting.

My sister woke me up at 8am this morning. UGH

Posted by Kirk at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2005

Arsenal steals the FA Cup

I think Manchester United fans are waking up today wondering how things could ever have gone so wrong (if they are also English, then the feeling is probably a familiar one).

Man U outplayed Arsenal for 120 minutes, but could not find the back of the net. So, it went down to penalties. And Arsenal closed the deal. I think Arsene Wenger was playing for a penalty shootout after the first half. He had to fancy his chances with Jens Lehmann on his side and Roy Carroll in the United goal.

Wayne Rooney was named Man of the Match, and he did have a fantastic game. But as much as I hate to admit it, Lehmann deserved it more: he ended with a clean sheet against a relentless attack and saved the crucial penalty at the end.

Mostly, I feel terrible for Preyash, because he probably stayed up until 2am watching and hoping. Not like London, where the match ended at 6pm, giving us time to watch Dr. Who before heading off for a nice dinner. And Preyash - we were not having a good laugh at your expense. We were outraged like everyone else who watched it...heh heh.

Posted by Kirk at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

They did it!

Whew! Yeovil comfortably topped Lincoln to win League Two and automatic promotion to League One in the final match of the year. And Manchester United drew with sure-to-be-relegated West Brom to end the curse of Preyash. I am already excited about next year!

Posted by Kirk at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

May 07, 2005

Did I mention I was a Yeovil fan?

I have adopted Yeovil as my football team. They are League Two and have a long tradition of being 'giant killers' in cup play. Tonight is the last game of the season for them, and they need only one point to win promotion to League One.

The reality is they should have won promotion already, but they were cursed by my friend Preyash, who told me a few months ago they looked sure to go up. At which point they lost four of their next five matches. He is a United fan and I am quite happy to see them struggle after what he did to Yeovil.

So - we should know in a few hours...go Glovers!

Posted by Kirk at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

Did I mention I was a Yeovil fan?

I have adopted Yeovil as my football team. They are League Two and have a long tradition of being 'giant killers' in cup play. Tonight is the last game of the season for them, and they need only one point to win promotion to League One.

The reality is they should have won promotion already, but they were cursed by my friend Preyash, who told me a few months ago they looked sure to go up. At which point they lost four of their next five matches. He is a United fan and I am quite happy to see them struggle after what he did to Yeovil.

So - we should know in a few hours...go Glovers!

Posted by Kirk at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)