Historic rivalry set as Japan heads to North Korea for the first time in 22 years

There are no noisemakers and no one does the wave, yet football fans in North Korea are passionate in their own way about the team that has become a symbol of national pride.That pride will be at stake Tuesday when North Korea faces Japan at Kim Il Sung Stadium in a much-anticipated World Cup qualifier that promises to be about far more than just football.Four of the North Korean players, including star striker Jong Tae Se, were born into ethnic Korean communities in Japan, and bitterness still runs deep over Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea, which ended in 1945.

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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."

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Yuji Nakazawa on Japan and this year’s World Cup

Rank outsiders to everyone but themselves, Japan should fear no one at this year’s World Cup, captain Yuji Nakazawa said.

The Blue Samurai have never won a World Cup game on foreign soil and face an uphill task in South Africa this June against the Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E.

“All those teams are full of dangerous players at big European clubs,” Nakazawa told Reuters. “Basically they will punish you if you make a mistake.

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