Thursday, October 11, 2012

John Duerden: Japan steps out of Asia for friendly tests against France, Brazil

Japan first appeared at the World Cup in 1998 in France, losing all three games and returning home long before the tournament finished. The Asians are back in Europe this week with a roster full of players from the major soccer leagues and are confident of getting a good result as it takes on France and Brazil (the two finalists from from 14 years ago) in the space of five days. Fans of the Samurai Blue insist that the national team is capable of doing something special at the 2014 World Cup. Wins at home earlier this year against opposition such as Iceland and Azerbaijan don't really help to spread that message, but France in Paris on Thursday and then Brazil in Poland five days later? That would be different. As the Olympics demonstrated with a 1-0 win over Spain, gone are the days when Japan plays against the traditional powerhouses of world soccer hoping just to survive.

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