Friday, January 30, 2009

Shock defeat ramps up the pressure on Japan coach Okada

Shock defeat ramps up the pressure on Japan coach Okada.
A shock 1-0 loss to Bahrain in Asian Cup qualifying has ramped up the pressure on Japan coach Takeshi Okada.

After struggling to see off Yemen 2-1 in their opening Asian Cup qualifier just over a week ago, Japan slumped to a disappointing defeat in Manama - not that anyone in Japan saw it.

For the first time in over a decade a Japan full international was not broadcast live on Japanese TV, after the Japan Football Association failed to reach an agreement with the Bahrain FA over broadcast fees.

Coach Okada will no doubt be pleased that Japan fans were denied the chance to see their team in action, as from all accounts the Blue Samurai turned in a desperately disappointing display.

Salman Issa struck the only goal of the game in the 24th minute at the National Stadium in Manama, and a Japan team missing creative midfielders Shunsuke Nakamura and Yasuhito Endo and striker Yoshito Okubo failed to break down a resolute Bahrain defence.

In the wake of the defeat Okada told Kyodo News, "there were a lot of misplaced passes in midfield and when you make a lot of mistakes things obviously do not go well. It's very disappointing to lose but we just have to look at this as a lesson learned ahead of Australia."

Japan's upcoming World Cup qualifier with Australia in Yokohama looms large for Okada, with growing disquiet surrounding his tenure in charge as national team coach.

The former Yokohama F. Marinos tactician could find his job on the line should Japan fail to record a satisfactory outcome against a team that is fast becoming one of the Blue Samurai's fiercest rivals.

Okada has mounting injury concerns with both Seigo Narazaki and Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi ruled out through injury - meaning that third-choice keeper Eiji Kawashima will continue between the posts.

Japan's last hit out before their Yokohama showdown is a friendly at the National Stadium in Tokyo against Finland, and Okada has named the following squad for both games;

Goalkeepers: Ryota Tsuzuki (Urawa Reds), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Takanori Sugeno (Kashiwa Reysol)

Defenders: Shuhei Terada (Kawasaki Frontale), Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F. Marinos), Kazumichi Takagi (Gamba Osaka), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Urawa Reds), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Michihiro Yasuda (Gamba Osaka), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers)

Midfielders: Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic/SCO), Hideo Hashimoto (Gamba Osaka), Junichi Inamoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki), Daisuke Matsui (Saint-Etienne/FRA), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg/GER), Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo Osaka)

Forwards: Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Seiichiro Maki (JEF United), Yoshito Okubo (Wolfsburg/GER), Tatsuya Tanaka (Urawa Reds), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse)

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