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Kubo's Kirin Cup selection is baffling

5 Jul 2004(Mon)

It's a difficult job being a national coach, for many reasons.

One of them is that you have to build a trusting relationship with the clubs who supply their highly-paid players to the national squad.

Take the case this week of Tatsuhiko Kubo.

Clearly the guy is injured, yet Zico still picks him for the Kirin Cup.

I just can't understand why he did so, after the Yokohama F Marinos asked the JFA to leave him out and rest his troublesome right knee.

Marinos officials were surprised and unhappy when they were informed, Thursday morning, of Kubo's selection.

Even though Zico has said he will not pick Kubo in his starting eleven in the Kirin Cup if he is not fit, I still think he should have left him alone for a couple of weeks.

Ever since Japan's 7-0 World Cup qualifying victory over India on June 9, Marinos manager Takeshi Okada has been saying that Kubo needed at least two weeks' rest, possibly three, at the end of the first stage of the championship.

Okada even said the club would not allow Kubo to play in the Asian Cup in China if he was not 100 percent fit.

Surely the right thing to do by Zico was just to grant Marinos' wishes and give Kubo a short break.

After all, the Kirin Cup is only two friendly matches, against Slovakia (ranked 61st in the world, alongside Thailand) on July 9 and Serbia-Montenegro (44th, but still very dangerous) on July 13.

There are four more forwards in the squad, including the 2002 World Cup tandem of Suzuki and Yanagisawa, as well as the delightfully skilfull and elegant left-footer, Keiji Tamada. Another lively player is Masashi Motoyama, so Zico still has plenty of interesting choices and combinations.

The word from the Marinos is that Kubo will withdraw from the squad anyway. The players are due to meet up Sunday evening in Hiroshima and start training Monday morning.

Presumably, Kubo will have to attend and provide medical support that he is not fit enough to play, but to me the more logical thing would have been to let him stay in his hometown in Fukuoka with his wife, who is expecting their second child around July 7.

Zico knows he can rely on Kubo to produce the goods, as the former Sanfrecce forward has been scoring some crucial goals for his country in recent games.

I don't see how his selection benefits anyone: Zico, Kubo or the Marinos.


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