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Okazaki goal lifts Japan over Argentina

A month after routing defending World Cup champion Spain in a friendly, Argentina couldn't come up with the same kind of result against Japan Friday morning (U.S. time).

Shinji Okazaki pounced on a parried save by Argentine keeper Sergio Romero and slotted home the rebound in the 19th minute to lift the Samurai Blue to a 1-0 victory over a full-strength Argentina squad in Saitama, Japan.

The win was not only the first ever for Japan over Argentina, but it also marked a strong result in the debut for new Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

Here's Okazaki's goal, which came off a rebound from a 30-yard shot by Makoto Hasebe:



  1. thanks japan! That’s a dynamic attacking 4 they got. Holding midfielders are great too, and the fullbacks are good in attack. Pretty scary team.

  2. This is one of the concerns that Tim Vickery (the BBC South American football correspondent) always brings up about Argentina. I listen to the BBC 5-Live World Football Phone-in podcast, and he’s mentioned several times that Argentina’s keeper development is far behind Brazil’s.

    To be fair to the current Argentina keeper, however, the original shot had a wicked curve to it and he almost blocked the second shot.

  3. I think it comes down to the conservative tactics that Okada put in place. It seemed to stifle the creativity of a lot of players. Remember Honda didn’t crack the starting line-up until only 6 months before the WC because his style didn’t fit into Okada’s system. Luckily Shunsuke Nakamura’s form dipped and allowed Honda in.

    I feel Hasebe has the ability to mold himself into a more destructive central midfielder and give Japan that bite it has lacked for a long time.

  4. I’m a big Japan fan and I’d argue the opposite is largely true — Japan has always had creative players but lacked in conditioning, awareness, and especially physicality.

    Japan’s best players have almost exclusively been creative/artistic types — Nakata, Ono, Nakamura, Endo, etc. On the other hand, Japan has never produced a center back or destructive midfielder of the same caliber.

  5. good result for Japan; I love Honda’s game

    I guess the appearance fees must be that good, because I still am puzzled about why a lot of these European-based teams play such far-flung friendlies that have to really take a toll on these players. Argentina in Japan, Uruguay in Indonesia, Spain (and Argentina) last month in Argentina, etc. The US team going to Cape Town next month is a brutal trip, but not as bad if its basically a Euro-based team. Still though, I’d rather play @ Morocco or Cote d’Ivoire @ Marseille; something like that.

  6. Great job by Hasebe to get that strike on target. He was getting closed down pretty fast. Anyone kno what formation they used? I’m assuming Honda isn’t up top by himself anymore.

  7. I’ve been very impressed with Japan’s national team the last 4+ years. They are a hard working squad which is has excelent conditioning and positional awareness, While improving greatly in the technical aspects of the game. They (like the US) lacked the creative spark…but have begun to develop that as well.

    Japan & South Korea have made amazing progress in their team/player development.

  8. I love the tifo in Japan. As soon as a goal is scored the giant flags go up. I’ve seen it in videos of Urawa Reds games too.

  9. Japan and the J-League aren’t available in Fifa 11 because PES owns the rights which is unfortunate. But it’s understandable how the average person might be ignorant to Japanese soccer.

    btw, Jose, isn’t it Japon? Being Japanese myself, I’m sure that’s what you meant.

  10. Because 1) Chinese suck at football. Now if you are asking why they don’t get more Japanese. The J-League is better than MLS by far and they also get paid far, far more than in MLS.


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