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Togo: a turkey shoot for Japan

19 Oct 2009(Mon)

October 15, 2009: Here's a few scribbles from my notebook from Japan-Togo on Wednesday night:

(Before kick-off) What's wrong? The TV camera is not only on Shunsuke during the entire pre-match build-up! Japan has two players tonight: Shunsuke and Morimoto. Only nine are irrelevant, not the usual 10.

The on-screen graphic introducing Takeshi Okada includes the “best four” target. Why can't everyone just ignore this instead of talking it up? It is doing no one any favours.

2 minutes: The TBS commentator uses the horrible word “grounder” when referring to a low ball into the box; a result of living in a baseball culture I suppose. This word should be banned from football speak in Japan, along with “heading shoot” and others I will save for a later column!

4 minutes: This is going to be a turkey shoot. Togo are terrible.

5 minutes: 1-0, Okazaki, unmarked at the near post.

8 minutes: 2-0, Okazaki flicks in Kengo's low cross from the right.

11 minutes: 3-0, Morimoto collects the ball with his back to goal, holds off his burly marker, turns and rifles it into the bottom corner. Nice.

At this point I stop making notes because it has become a pointless exercise. The match is over already and even the commentators and crowd seemed bored. Japan's October Football Fest has turned into a Snooze Fest.

As we all know, Japan went on to win 5-0 and Okazaki grabbed his second hat-trick in the space of seven days, after his treble against Hong Kong the previous Thursday. With all his goals for the national team this year, and for S-Pulse, you'd think he could come up with a better goal celebration than the half-hearted, self-conscious arm-flapping effort that he dabbled with at Miyagi Stadium. Clearly this needs more work than his finishing.

On a more serious note, the JFA would have every right to complain to FIFA about Togo turning up with only 14 players. That is a disgrace, inexcusable compared to the criticism levelled against Scotland because 10 players withdrew “injured” from the original squad. Scotland still had seven players on the bench and the result could have gone either way until the own goal swung it eight minutes from time.


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