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.
Germany is towering over Japan in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals with a height advantage nearly as big as the home field advantage.The sellout crowd of 26,000 will be cheering for the host team Saturday as the nation has done since the tournament started two weeks ago. And with its penchant for lethal headers, Germany should have a distinct advantage over the much smaller Japanese.The Asian side is renowned for passing combinations and quickness. But when England used a physical game in the last group game, Japan lost 2-0. Germany, too, is expected to step up with bold challenges.
England turned the threat of first-round elimination into Group B victory with a 2-0 win over Japan to reach the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.
After a lackluster first two games, England was spectacular in its decisive game. After 15 minutes, Sophie Bradley sent a deep ball from her half toward Ellen White, who forward spotted goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line. She let the ball bounce once and lobbed it over Kaihori with exquisite precision from 21 meters out.
In the 66th, England came up with a second good goal, when Rachel Unitt shrugged off several Japanese defenders to set up substitute forward Rachel Yankey for a delicate chip and the insurance goal.
With a perfect two victories out of two matches, Japan has reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup with flair and a tournament-leading six goals so far. England was saved by a fighting performance to earn another day at the tournament.
Homare Sawa got the World Cup’s first hat trick to lead Japan past Mexico 4-0.
For England, gangly midfielder Jill Scott was just as important with a goal and an assist to resurrect England’s campaign with 2-1 win over New Zealand.
It gave Japan 6 points, two more than England, whic
Earlier this year, we reported on Japan’s plans for a holographic broadcast the 2022 World Cup as part of its bid to hold the soccer tournament. If you were looking forward to this, well, we’re sorry to disappoint: Japan’s World Cup bid was rejected, and along with it went holographic broadcast plans.
For those of you not familiar with the nations proposal, Japan’s 2022 World Cup bid included plans to simultaneously broadcast matches across the world, live, to 400 international stadiums, all in glorious holographic 3D.
The idea was that soccer fans would be able to head to their national stadium to view matches. Once there, fans could watch matches on in front of them live, thanks to holographic images broadcast from thousands of miles away.
The face of defeat was red, the eyes wet, the gaze downcast. Yuichi Komano made a slow, sad walk through a media gauntlet behind Loftus Versfeld Stadium known as the Mixed Zone.
But there was nothing mixed about his emotions. Komano was distraught, a Blue Samurai too blue to speak, looking as if he’d let a whole nation down.
The Japanese defender’s penalty kick against Paraguay slammed off the crossbar, the only miss in the 2010 World Cup’s first overtime shootout. The South Americans advanced to the quarterfinal, 5-3 on PKs, their Cinderella story intact, while Japan’s wonderful run was halted by mere inches.
Japan coach Takeshi Okada thinks reaching a first ever World Cup quarterfinal with victory over Paraguay on Tuesday would be an important step in developing football in his country.
“For the football community of Japan, it would be very bright, wonderful news and encouraging if we advanced,” Okada said Monday through a translator. “Japan’s aim of becoming one of the world-class teams would be one step closer if we can qualify for the last eight for the first time.
“The World Cup is a very good measurement to estimate the level of a nation at this time and we’ve come so far, not only to our credit, but to the credit of footballing community of Japan as a whole.”
Through April, SI.com 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.