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Why all the indignation about Scotland's squad?

15 Oct 2009(Thu)

October 14, 2009: The biggest surprise about the strength of the Scotland squad visiting Japan was that anyone was surprised at all.

Takeshi Okada seemed he had been let down personally by the mass withdrawals, and that it had prompted a rethink about his own team selection.

Personally, I can't see what all the fuss was about. It was a friendly match, a long way from home, at a time when the football season is jam-packed with club and country commitments. Withdrawals were inevitable, and I don't see why this should affect Japan at all.

You often hear coaches saying they are not concerned about the opposition, that the most important thing is to concentrate on their own team and their own game. So why all the stuffy reaction to Scotland's squad? Admittedly, 10 players from the original squad pulling out is a bit much, but Japan's reaction was somewhat disrespectful to Scotland.

For manager George Burley it was a chance to look at some new players now their hopes of qualifying for South Africa 2010 had disappeared, and he still had a decent defence, with Sunderland's Craig Gordon in goal, captain Stephen McManus in the centre of the back four and Celtic teammate Gary Caldwell in defensive midfield.

Scotland defended well and seemed to be enjoying themselves as Japan tried to break through. Once again I thought Japan took too many touches around the box and tried one more pass than necessary on occasions, and this gave the Scottish defenders the chance to intercept, tackle and block.

The Scots offered little going forward, let down by poor delivery at set-pieces, but don't forget the visitors came very close to taking the lead when Burnley's Steven Fletcher was denied by Eiji Kawashima in that one-on-one on 73 minutes. That would have been very embarrassing for Japan, considering the pre-match criticism of the Scotland team.

Scotland were looking good for a 0-0 draw, until the unfortunate own goal by Christophe Berra (Wolverhampton Wanderers) as he tried to cut out Yuichi Komano's excellent cross from the left eight minutes from time. Keisuke Honda gave the final scoreline much more respectability with his late second for 2-0.

The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, says he would scrap international friendlies altogether because they serve little purpose, with players pulling out “injured” or being put at the risk of injury, and national coaches fielding second-string teams with little hope of working on anything constructive or relevant to a real match situation.

There were over 61,000 reasons why the JFA will disagree with Wenger, but, still, they should not be surprised or complain when invited countries arrive with under-strength teams.

ends

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Comments

"Admittedly, 10 players from the original squad pulling out is a bit much, but Japan's reaction was somewhat disrespectful to Scotland."
Granted, Scotland just failed to qualify for the World Cup last month. Still, is it not "disrespectful" to Japan that they left out the EPL/Old Firm calibres of K Miller, Maloney, D Fletcher, McFadden, Ferguson, S Brown? They were deservingly well beaten by Japan for that.

Posted by: bluesamurai | 10/17/2009 10:57 am

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