Former Japan national defender Matsuda in hospital after collapse

Club officials say former Japan defender Naoki Matsuda collapsed during training after suffering a cardiopulmonary arrest.

The 34-year-old Matsuda was unconscious when he arrived at a hospital Tuesday and has been on an artificial cardiopulmonary unit, Matsumoto Yamaga Football Club team officials say.

His condition was “extremely severe,” club president Hiroshi Otsuki said, according to doctors.

Read the rest of the story: Former Japan national defender Matsuda collapses during practice, possibly due to heatstroke.

Japan rethinking Copa America

Japan will rethink its withdrawal from the Copa America following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which disrupted the domestic football calendar, a senior Japanese official said Wednesday.

The Argentina Football Association, which hosts the South American championship in Argentina from July 1, has asked Japan to reconsider its decision to pull-out of the event, Japan Football Association (JFA) vice president Kozo Tashima said.

"The Japanese association for its part has not reached a final conclusion," he said, according to the Jiji Press news agency and other media.

"We will reconsider whether we can send a national team by using our wisdom more than ever."

Read the rest of the story: Japan rethinking Copa America pull-out.

Japan beats NKorea for Asian Games football gold – World Soccer

Japan won its first Asian Games women’s football gold medal by beating the defending champion North Koreans 1-0 on Monday in a fiercely contested final.

After a scoreless first half, defender Azusa Iwashimizu broke through with her historic header in the 74th minute, helping her jubilant team claim the Asian Games title.

The disciplined and experienced Japanese, led by U.S.-based midfielders Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama, managed to keep the determined North Koreans from scoring the rest of the game.

The win was retribution for Japan’s 2006 loss to the top-seeded North Koreans in a penalty shootout at the last Asian Games in Doha.

“Four years ago we lost to North Korea in the final. Now we are here, we are four years older and we have a better mentality that helped us win,” Japan captain Aya Miyama said. “As I was listening to our national anthem from the podium, I was more calmed than excited.”

The North Koreans blamed fatigue after a difficult, 2-1 extra time win over South Korea in the semifinals.

Read the rest of the story: Japan beats NKorea for Asian Games football gold – World Soccer.

Sports Illustrated spotlights Japan in World Cup Profiles

Through April, will profile two World Cup teams a week and are currently focusing on Japan.

Japan’s most recognizable player is Shunsuke Nakamura, the talismanic midfielder who scored 29 goals during a five-year stint with Celtic from 2005-09. A holdover from the 2002 and ’06 World Cup teams, Nakamura is one of the side’s most experienced players — but the 31-year-old is fighting the perception of a superstar on the wane. Despite that, the deadly free-kick taker provides important creative influence on the right flank.

And if Japan might not be your favorite team check out all their profiles.

Read More of this profile: 2010 World Cup profile: Japan