Sunday, June 18, 2006

Japan ... just not nasty enough

Just not nasty enough. That is the conclusion I've come to about the Japan football team. Against Australia they were taken apart by one player that embodies all that Japan don't have, Tim Cahill. Cahill is physical, strong, with bags of energy, yet no slouch in the technique department either. But what he has in spades, more than anything else, is total commitment and belief. He doesn't want to lose and if that means scything through a few players who get in his way, then he is perfectly happy to do it. He is nasty. Plain and simple. Not a nice bloke on the pitch. But one of the most effective players in football today. Does Japan have anyone that comes close in terms of temperament? Not really. The closest might possibly be Inamoto, honed in the school of "hard knocks" by a season of battling at the foot of the Premiership - not a place for the faint of heart. Zico should have brought him on in the last game to get stuck in.

Tonight Japan take on Croatia. Croatia will also provide a strong physical opposition. A strong backbone is what Japan needed against Australia and they were found wanting. Have they spent the last five days with a "psychological osteopath" straightening out the kinks in that backbone? There are a lot of nervous people in Japan who don't think so. If they haven't then they'll be getting on a plane sooner rather than later to be welcomed home by a subdued populace.

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