Tuesday Kickoff: Japan first to qualify for World Cup; Heynckes won't coach next season; and more

Tuesday Kickoff: Japan first to qualify for World Cup; Heynckes won't coach next season; and more

South American Soccer

Tuesday Kickoff: Japan first to qualify for World Cup; Heynckes won't coach next season; and more

JapanCelebratesWorldCupQualification2014 (ToruHanai Reuters)

By DAN KARELL

With a 1-1 draw against Australia on Tuesday morning (late evening local time), Japan became the first nation other than Brazil to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

The result gives Japan 14 points from seven matches, good enough to clinch a place in the top two of their Asian Football Confederation Fourth Round qualifying group. Australia currently sit in second place with seven points from six matches, tied with Jordan.

The match in Saitama, Japan, just outside of Tokyo, was all Japan early on, though Mark Schwartzer did his best in goal to keep the Blue Samurai off the scoreboard. The first shock of the match finally came in the 82nd minute, when Australia midfielder Tommy Oar, who had been torrid crossing the ball all match, looped a half cross-half shot over the head of Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima for the opening goal.

The hosts wouldn’t be denied though, and in the 90th minute, Australia midfielder Matt McKay handled a cross in the box, allowing Japanese forward Keisuke Honda to score from the penalty spot to level the score.

Here are some more stories to get your Tuesday started:

HEYNCKES WON’T MANAGER IN 2013-2014 SEASON

Outgoing Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes is waving good bye, for now.

The 68-year-old manager, who guided Bayern to a treble of titles this season, the Bundesliga, German Cup, and UEFA Champions League, stated at a press conference on Tuesday that he would not manage next season, needing to take the time off to recharge the batteries after a long season.

“This season I reached my limit. In the past weeks I realised I had reached an age where recovery takes a lot longer,” Heynckes told Reuters. “Coaching Bayern demands a lot of substance, strength and energy.”

However, Heynckes didn’t rule out eventually coming back to management, saying that after he took some time off he would think things over and decide whether he wanted to come back to the game.

PRANDELLI PICKS ITALY SQUAD FOR CONFEDERATIONS CUP

Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, and Daniele De Rossi lead Cesare Prandelli’s 23-man Italy squad into the Confederations Cup this June 15-30.

The trio were kept on the roster after a training camp featuring 29 players, six of which were released to make the final 23. Among those released were Andrea Ranocchia, Angelo Ogbonna, and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, who was removed from the squad reportedly for insulting his coach at AS Roma.

Juventus will supply the Italy National Team with seven players, followed by AC Milan who are sending five of their own, including youngsters Stephen El-Shaaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio.

QUICK KICKS

Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Andros Townsend has been suspended for four months by the FA for a breach of betting regulations. (REPORT)

After being reported yesterday, Sevilla FC confirmed that winger Jesus Navas is on his way out of the club after accepting an offer from Manchester City. (REPORT)

Atletico Madrid have signed 20-year-old forward Leo Baptistao in part to replace Falcao up top for next season. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger underwent minor surgery to remove a bone fragment in his heel, but he is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season. (REPORT)

Former England and Mexico head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has been appointed the latest manager of Chinese Super League club Guangzhou. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you see Japan making a run at the World Cup? Do you believe that Heynckes won’t coach next season? Do you like Italy’s Confederations Cup roster?

Share your thoughts below.

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