5 Japan players to watch at the World Cup

BY JIM ARMSTRONG

AP Sports Writer

 – Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa will be called on to play key roles as Japan attempts to reach the next level at the World Cup.

Japan surprised critics in 2010 by advancing past the group stage with wins over Cameroon and Denmark before losing on penalties to Paraguay in the knockout stage.

Japan′s team this year will feature many young players and Zaccheroni will be counting on Honda and Kagawa for leadership.

Here are five players to watch:


KEISUKE HONDA

Widely regarded as Japan′s best player, Keisuke Honda scored in a 1–1 draw with Australia in June to secure the country′s fifth straight World Cup appearance.

Brash and confident, the 27–year–old AC Milan attacking midfielder said Japan won′t be intimidated by any opposition in Brazil.

He set up two goals in Japan′s 4–2 win over New Zealand in a friendly in March playing in his preferred central position.

Honda is off to a slow start at AC Milan, where coach Clarence Seedorf has been using him on the right side or as a defensive midfielder.

FILE – In this Tuesday‚ June 4‚ 2013‚ file photo, Japan′s Keisuke Honda controls the ball during their Asian zone Group B qualifying soccer match against Australia for the 2014 World Cup in Saitama, near Tokyo. Coach Alberto Zaccheroni promised to “surprise the world” after star player Keisuke Honda fired the Samurai Blue through with an injury time penalty against Australia.


SHINJI KAGAWA

Despite struggling to find his form under David Moyes during Manchester United′s troubled season, Shinji Kagawa has been a major contributor to Japan′s qualifying campaign.

Kagawa scored twice in the friendly win over New Zealand‚ proving that his lack of playing time at Old Trafford hasn′t slowed him down.

The 25–year–old midfielder scored 21 goals over two seasons with Borussia Dortmund. And on March 2‚ 2013‚ Kagawa scored three times for United in a 4–0 home win over Norwich to become the first Asian player to score a hat trick in a Premier League match.

FILE – In this June 4‚ 2013‚ file photo, Japan′s Shinji Kagawa controls the ball during their Asian zone Group B qualifying soccer match against Australia for the 2014 World Cup in Saitama‚ near Tokyo. Japan reached the knockout stage in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa and outperformed Australia in qualifying to claim 17 points from eight games.

SHINJI OKAZAKI
Japan′s top striker‚ Shinji Okazaki has scored 11 goals in 24 games for German club Mainz this season.
The 27–year–old forward moved to Stuttgart in 2011 and scored 10 goals across two seasons before his transfer to Mainz.
Okazaki scored the only goal in Japan′s 1–0 win over Argentina in an international friendly‚ its first ever win over the 1978 and 1986 World Cup champions.
Okazaki′s 35 international goals make him Japan′s fourth–highest scorer of all time.

Shinji Okazaki of Japan beats the Latvian Goalkeeper to score his second goal during the international friendly match between Japan and Latvia at Home′s Stadium Kobe on February 6‚ 2013 in Kobe‚ Japan.


YOICHIRO KAKITANI

Considered by many to be Japan′s future star‚ 24–year–old midfielder Yoichiro Kakitani scored 21 goals in 34 games for Cerezo Osaka last season and added four goals for the national team in 2013 as an attacking midfielder for coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

Kakitani has drawn comparisons with Shinji Kagawa‚ who also played for Cerezo.

A strong performance in Brazil could garner more interest from clubs in Europe.

In This Photo: Yoichiro Kakitani

Yoichiro Kakitani of Japan in action during the international friendly match between Japan and Guatemala at International Stadium Yokohama on September 6‚ 2013 in Osaka‚ Japan.


YUTO NAGATOMO

Yuto Nagatomo joined Inter Milan in January 2011 from Cesena and has been an integral member of the back four since then.

The speedy 27–year–old left back has made 18 league appearances for Inter this season while scoring five goals.

A regular member of the national team‚ Nagatomo has played in 63 games for Japan with three goals.

FILE – In this June 4‚ 2013‚ file photo, Japan′s Yuto Nagatomo plays during their Asian zone Group B qualifying soccer match against Australia for the 2014 World Cup at Saitama Stadium in Saitama‚ near Tokyo. Japan‚ which reached the knockout stage in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa outperformed Australia in qualifying to claim 17 points from eight games.

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Light still shines on the Colombian Striker, Falcao

On the 39th minute match against Monts D′or Azergues‚ Colombian striker of AS Monaco‚ Radamel Falcao‚ suffered a anterior cruciate ligament injury. As he was making his way to make a goal‚ Ertek caught–up with him from behind‚ tackled in an effort to get the ball‚ leaving him to the ground in bad shape.
Falcao has been taken out of the field from stretcher.
Concerns then rose as Falcao plays a vital part in Columbia′s National Team to play in the World Cup 2014 which is just a few months away.
“Following Wednesday′s injury‚ Radamel Falcao made a diagnostic examination. It appears that the player is suffering from trauma in the left knee with lesion of ligament anterior cruciate. The player will have surgery in next few days. Doctors will do everything possible to speed up recovery.” asm–fc.com

2014 World Cup: Final Group List Released

 

Costa do Sauípe Resort, Mata de São João in Bahia, took place the final draw of the 2014 World cup. 32 teams will play on in groups of 4 teams’ to start with final tournament, a total of 8 teams as a result.
Before the final draw, teams were divided into four pots to facilitate draw process based on seeding and geographic location.
Pot 1* Pot 2 (Africa & South America) Pot 3 (Asia & North America) Pot 4 (Europe)
Brazil (hosts)
Argentina
Colombia
Uruguay
Belgium
Germany
Spain
Switzerland
Algeria
Cameroon
Ivory Coast
Ghana
Nigeria
Chile
Ecuador
Australia
Japan
Iran
South Korea
Costa Rica
Honduras
Mexico
United States
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatia
England
France
Greece
Italy
Netherlands
Portugal
Russia

*Brazil on top as hosts, 7 remaining team coming off the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking October 2013

 

Procedure (FIFA):
1. In order to create an even flow to the draw as Pots 1-4 are emptied, we begin by drawing one ball from Pot 4 (containing a European team) and placing it into Pot 2 to achieve an equal balance of eight teams in each pot
2. Pot 1 will then be emptied beginning with Brazil; teams will be allocated to position 1 of Groups A through H sequentially
3. With the addition of the European team to Pot 2, Pot 2 will contain teams from three different qualification zones. With teams from three zones in the same pot, we increase the risk of inadvertently violating the principle of geographic separation. In order to ensure we do not mistakenly end up with three European teams in the same Group, the following mechanism will be implemented:
·          The four seeded South American teams will be placed in an ancillary pot – Pot X
·          One of the four teams will be drawn
·          The Group of the South American which is drawn will determine the Group which the European team from Pot 2 will join Final Draw Procedures
4. Pot 2 will then be emptied, beginning with the European ball
·          The European team will join Group of South American team drawn from Pot X
·          The remaining teams will be allocated to Groups A through H sequentially
·          Note: Groups may be skipped to respect principle of geographic separation; e.g. Chile and Ecuador may not be drawn into Groups with seeded South American teams
5. Pots 3 and 4 will then be emptied in order
6. The positions within Groups A through H will be drawn for all teams of Pots 2, 3 and 4.
Final Draw Results
See upcoming posts for World Cup 2014 updates here in sbobitcoin