July 30, 2008: Even before the thunder and lightning struck, there was a special crackle around Kokuritsu on Tuesday evening.
Those famous light blue and white stripes of Argentina had attracted a big crowd to the National Stadium, over 43,000, and the match was played in a carnival atmosphere.
Even though the real thing -- Messi -- was not there, there were plenty of replica Messi shirts, as well as those of Veron, Batistuta, Saviola, Aimar and, naturally, Maradona.
Walking to the stadium was like walking through the history of Argentine football, and, if anything, the circumstances forcing the abandonment of the match added to the occasion.
Although there was jeering when the players went off with the stadium clock at 83 minutes, 35 seconds, and booing when the official announcement was made shortly after, the decisions were absolutely right.
First, the conditions were quite dangerous for fans and players alike with the lightning flashing all around; and second, the pitch quickly became unplayable due to the torrential rain.
Unlike the Antlers-Reds match on Sunday night when there was a lot at stake, it was not worth keeping everyone hanging around just to complete this Olympic friendly.
The 1-0 scoreline was about right, as Argentina were the better team but Japan hung in there and gave them a few scares.
My man of the match for Japan this time was the central defender Morishige.
I thought he had an outstanding first half in checking the runs of the Argentine forwards as they chased the delicate passes of Riquelme.
Like all good defenders, Morishige does not dive in to tackles recklessly, taking himself out of the game; he stands up, watches the ball, holds his ground and uses his body to shepherd players away from danger.
He plays with a natural aggression and intensity, especially in the air, yet is calm and focused at the right time and always stays goal-side of his man.
The positioning and play of Morishige was vital in keeping out Argentina in the first half, and his performance alongside the skipper Mizumoto will probably have sealed his place in the starting line-up at the Olympics, at the expense of Yoshida.
As for Argentina, they gave their many fans plenty to cheer, and not just the cool, right-footed finish of left winger Angel Di Maria.
With a midfield platform of Gago and Mascherano, Riquelme could dictate his team's rhythm like a conductor directing an orchestra; a calm passage here, a burst of energy there, but always fluid and in control.
Just a pity this concerto had to end early.