March 27, 2007: With a goal for Takahara and a successful return for Shunsuke, no wonder the two Europe-based players dominated the headlines after the Peru game.
But my man of the match for Japan was neither of these.
My MVP was Yuichi Komano. I thought he had a fine game out on Japan’s left flank, and has quickly established himself as an Osim favourite.
He is just the kind of player you would not want to play against, isn’t he? It would be very annoying and frustrating to play against Komano because he just won’t leave you alone or go away. When you think you have a second or two on the ball to assess the situation, Komano would be snapping away at your heels like a tough little terrier. You just couldn’t shake him off, by fair means or by foul, and this would test the patience and the resolve of any opponent.
Against Peru he was everywhere. He attacked with pace and purpose down that left flank, and set an example for Kaji on the other wing. I have always been a fan of Kaji’s, and still am, but Komano was much the more aggressive and adventurous of the two wing backs on this occasion. I was wanting Kaji to push forward more in the first half, to take his man on, but he seemed reluctant to take a risk and leave the team without cover behind him. This is where Abe and Keita come in, though, because they can both read these situations quickly and move across the pitch into position, offering protection to the two wingers.
When it comes to full backs/wing backs/wingers, Japan are in pretty good shape, with Kaji and Mizuno on the right, and Alex, Komano and Honda on the left – and Komano, of course, can play on either flank.
At 25 years old (26 in July), Komano has plenty of time to mature and develop under Osim. He is just the kind of player Osim likes with his pace, mobility and intensity – and just the kind of player the opposition must dislike.