FIFA World Cup Today Matches

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Japan, World Cup’s Dark Horse

Japan, World Cup’s Dark Horse

Dubbed as one of World Cup’s dark horses, Japan has participated into different friendlies to prepare them for the highly anticipated event. The result of their World Cup matches this 2014 will determine if its current head honcho, Alberto Zaccheroni is the right man for the job and if the players have matured to challenge the heavy favorites.


How they qualified

The Samurai Blue is the very first club to seal their World Cup Berth. Despite a shocking 2-1 loss to Jordan, the club scored the most points in its group. Overall, they have accumulated a total of 17 points, which is shortly followed by Australia.


Confederations Cup, friendlies and defence

Japan had its taste of the Confederations Cup last year where they battle it out against some of the world favorites such as Brazil, Mexico and Italy.


Although Brazil kept them at bay, they put up a thriller against Italy and Mexico. They may have never won a single match, but the experiences learned contributed to their preparation.


The Samurai Blue further engaged into other international friendlies such as the ones against Netherlands, Uruguay, Bulgaria, Serbia and Belarus.


Some of their encounters barely produced good results and exposed their unstable defence wall and this lead for a call to sack Zaccheroni. However, the 60-year old strategist was retained and a draw against Netherlands and a victory against Belgium enabled Zaccheroni to regain the confidence of the squad’s supporters.


Players to watch out for

Shinji Kagawa

This attacking midfielder and playmaker was sincere enough to admit his “irritation” over his form that has prevented him from securing a spot in Manchester United’s starting XI. But on a closer look, it can be seen that such statement also reveals Kagawa’s determination to improve. Moreover, it cannot be denied that his key passes, clinical finishes are instrumental to the Samurai Blue’s success.


Keisuke Honda

Said to be the squad’s talisman, this creative playmaker is expected to set the tone and tempo for the Samurai Blues attack on the pitch.


More preparations

Japan will be meeting Cyprus in the Kirin Challenge on May 27. This will be their last friendly prior to the World Cup.



Image Source: Business Week

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