Toyota Cup: Real Madrid vs Boca Junior
Tokyo's National Stadium attracted a crowd of 52,511 on Nov. 28 to the club championship between European winner Real Madrid, the South American winner, Boca Junior. Boca's Martin Palermo contributed to 2 goals in the 6th minute of the game. Madrid's Roberto Carlos posted a goaled the 12th minute. Such early goals determined the outcome of the game. Bocas won 2 to 1.

Japan at Asian Cup
vs. Saudia Arabia
Japan met Saudia Arabia again in the final game on Oct 29. It was a tough competition where goal keeper Yoshikazu Kawaguchi kept the Saudis from scoring from time to time. Mochizuki succeeded in Japan's only goal to give the team it's 2nd Asian Cup title. By the way, South Korea finished 3rd managing to keep face as the co-host of the 2002 World Cup.
vs. China
In the semi-finals on Oct 27, Japan faced China. Akinori Nishizawa headed in a goal. Myojin goaled too. Japan defeated China 3 to 2 to advance to the final against Saudia Arabia.
vs. Iraq
Iraq was the first to score on Oct.25. It was in the first 4th minute. But Japan's attack began after that. Shunsuke Nakamura scored, so did Naohiro Takahara and Hiroshi Nanami. Japan won 4 to 1.
vs. Qatar
On Oct. 20, Japan faced Qatar. For Japan, the result did not matter too much because it had already won its berth to the tournament round by winning 2 games. For Qatar it was different. And the more motivated Qatar goaled first. Japan caught up with Akinori Nishizawa's goal and the game finished a draw.
vs. Uzbekistan
In the first half of the game, Japan already scored 5 goals. Then in the later half Japan added another 3 goals. It was an overwhelming 8 to 1 victory for Japan. Naohiro Takahara who achieved a hat trick was named MVP.
vs. Saudi Arabia
In Lebanon, Japan competed against last Asia Cup champion on Oct. 14. Japan overwhelmed the Saudis. Atsushi Yanagisawa was the first to score, followed by Naohiro Takahara. In the later half, it was Hiroshi Nanami who was after the game named MVP, the Shinji Ono. However, Japan had also bluffed. Just before the game ended, it's given the Saudis an "on goal".

Japan in Sydney Olympic Games Final Round
vs. US
In soccer's quarterfinals, Japan faced the US. In the 29th minute, Atsushi Yanagisawa goaled. The US, however caught up in the later half. Then 4 minutes after, Naohiro Takahara kicked in Japan's 2nd goal. It seemed like the game would come to an end. But one minute before time was up, Japan gave the US a penalty kick. The US succeeded in a goal. The game went into sudden death, and then to PK. Hidetoshi Nakata who was the 4th to kick hit the poll. The PK resulted in a 5 to 4. The US proceeded to the semi-finals. The Olympics was over for Japan.

Japan in Sydney Olympic Games Preliminaries
vs. Brazil
Japan played Brazil at Brisbane Cricket Ground attracting 36,000 spectators. It was the game to determine which teams will go to the final tournament. The contest in Group D was between 3 teams--Japan, Brazil and South Africa. Whatever Japan's result, if South Africa lost to Slovakia, it could proceed. Slovakia answered the prayer of Japanese fans by defeating South Africa 2 to 1and even though Japan lost to Brazil 0 to 1 it for the first time in 32 years has won a place in the final tournament.

vs. South Africa
On Sept 14, one day before the opening ceremony, the Japanese soccer team played against South Africa in Canberra. It appeared in the first half that Japan was stiff. And in the 31st minute, it was South Africa's Siyabonga Nombethe who goaled first. Naohiro Takahara of Jubilo Iwata had 2 tries at the goal but missed. Then in the 46th minute, he did it with his head. In the later half, it was Takahara again. Hidetoshi Nakata of AS Roma passed the ball to him, and Takahara, seeing the opposing goalkeeper closing onto him kicked the ball slowly in. Japan defeated South Africa 2 to 1.

vs. Slovakia
In it's second game in Group D, Japan defeated Slovakia 2 to 1. In the later half, it was Hide Nakata of AS Roma who headed in a goal. Last game's hero, Naohiro Takahara dribbled the ball alone for quite a distance. Junichi Inamoto received the pass and goaled. That was in the 74th minute. After Andrej Poraz of Slovakia goaled in the 83rd minute, Japan appeared to have grown tense. But it managed to safely end the game. If Japan when's the next game against Brazil, it can proceed to the quarter finals.
Japan in Group D
Sept 14 vs. South Africa
Sept 17 vs. Slovakia
Sept 20 vs. Brazil

Troussier's contract is extended
Philippe Troussier and Japan Football Association president Shunichiro Okano held a press conference on Sept. 8 to announce that Troussier has been appointed to lead Japan's national team until the 2002 World Cup. He is to win 100 million a year.

Japan vs Morocco
Japan's Olympic team played its final international match before taking off for Australia. It was Morocco that scored first in the 8th minute. But Japan came back with 2 own goals. And Masashi Motoyama who came in to play in the later half got in Japan's 3rd goal to defeat the African team 3 to 1 at Tokyo's National Stadium on Sept 5. Japan leaves for Australia on Sept 9.

Japan vs Kuwait
Japan's Olympic team held a practice game as a lead in to the Sydney Games on Sept 2. It was at Osaka's Nagai Stadium before 4100 fans. It played against Kuwait. Japan could not score in the 1st half of the game. In the 2nd half alone, it achieved 6 goals and won 6 to 0. The first goal was supported by Hidetoshi Nakata and kicked in by Shunsuke Nakamura.

Kirin Challenge
* vs.United Arab Emirates on August 16
The teams faced eachother at Hiroshima Big Arc. Japan was the first to goal. In the 11th minute,it was Hiroaki Morishima. Then 15 minutes after Shunsuke Nakamura earned a penalty kick. He goaled. Daisuke Oku kicked in in the 86th minute. UAE secured a goal in the end. Japan won 3 to 1.

Kirin Cup
* vs.Slovakia on June 11
The Slovaks which are among the best in the world were the first to score from a corner kick. But Japan caught up 2 minutes later through Shunsuke Nakamura's free kick. However, neither sides could score after that. The game ended a 1 to 1 tie. By the way, it was the opener for Miyagi Stadium which will be used during the 2002 World Cup.
* vs.Bolivia on June 18
Atsushi Yanagisawa goaled twice to give Japan a shut out defeat. This victory also secured Philippe Troussier's post as head coach for Japan's national team and Olympic team.

Japan in Morocco at King Hassan II Cup
* vs.France on June 4
Japan played well against last World Cup champ. In fact, it was the first to goal. Hiroaki Morishima of Cerezo Osaka did it with his head. But France's Gidan tied the game. But in the later 25th minute, Akinori Nishizawa completed a shoot. France caught up again 5 minutes later. The game went into a PK. Junichi Inamoto of Gamba Osaka and Hiroshi Nanami of Venezia missed giving France the game.
* vs.Jamaica on June 6
Japan was taking the initiative in the first half of the game but could not goal. Than in the later half, Spain's Shoji Jo kicked in one then headed in another. Atsushi Yanagisawa of the Antlers contributed too. Finally veteran Kazu Miura of Kyoto Purple Sanga placed a goal. Japan won 4 to 0.

Nanami's final game with Venezia
On Apr. 31, Hiroshi Nanami appeared in the middle of the game against Lazio. This was an important match for his team. That's because if it loses it'll be demoted to Serie B. What happened was, Lazio won 3 to 2. Nanami is leaving Venezia after this game.

Friendly match: Japan vs S. Korea
On Apr. 27, the 2 Olympic rep teams met in S. Korea. Hidetoshi Nakata and Hiroshi Nanami were travelled from Italy to play. Five J. League players were on the Korean side. Both teams had great many chances to score, but it was in the 78th minutes that S.Korea goaled. The game resulted a 1 to 0 win for S. Korea. It's stopped its losing streak against the Japanese Olympic team at 2.

Olympic test match: Japan vs New Zealand
Young players who are expected to play in the coming Olympic Games faced eachother at Tokyo's National Stadium. Japan's Shunsuke Nakamura of Yokohama F. Marinos shot in the first goal in the 18th minute. In the 40th minute, it was Jubilo Iwata's Naohiro Takahara. Japan kicked in 2 more goals in the later half to overwhelm the Kiwis 4 to 0.

All star team in Kirin Cup
Japan's star players were back to play against China in the Kirin Cup on Mar. 15. Hiroshi Nanami of Venezia returned to Japan on Mar. 13. Hidetoshi Nakata of AS Roma, and Shoji Jo of Valladolid were back a day later. Nearly 40,000 spectators filled the stands of Kobe. All three started the game. Already in the 3rd minute, Jo had a try at the goal, but failed to score. Immediately after, he could not run. It appeared as if he could no longer carry on, but after some treatment, he was back to work. Japan had control of the ball most of the time, and Gon Nakayama also had many tries at the goal but could not quite make it. The game ended a null tie.

Jo scores at last in Spain
In the 34th minute, Japanese Shoji Jo was dribbling the ball with noone but the goalie in the way. He kicked the ball in successfully for his first goal in the Spanish League. And it didn't end there. 25 minutes in the later half, Jo headed in a goal. He did a forward flip to show his glee. It's Valladolid first win in 5 games by winning 2 to 1.

Japan in Asian Cup qualifier in Macau
* Japan vs.Singapore on February 13
Masashi "Gon" Nakayama kicked in the 2nd goal in the 42nd minute. The other two was by Yuji Nakazawa. In all, Japan won 3 to 0, but the victory was unsatisfactory. It was expected to score much more playing against a much lower ranking team. Even worse for soccer fans was that the Singapore side did not appear to give out its best. Rather than attacking the goal, it's emphasis was on defense play.
* Japan vs.Brunei on February 16
4 minutes into the game, Gon Nakayama already achieved a hat trick. The 2 goals were assisted by Kazu Miura. Then Kazu himself in the 36th minute headed in a goal. It's the first time in 2 years and 5 months that Kazu's scored in an international match. In all, Japan defeated Brunei 9 to 0. But fans were not satisfied because Japan missed many good opportunities.
* Japan vs.Macau on February 20
Japanese players appeared slow and heavy in the beginning due to high humidity. The level was above 90 percent. Japan needed only a draw to secure a place in the Asian Cup in Lebanon in Oct. Little by little, teamwork improved. At last, in the 35th minute, Gon kicked in a goal. He shot another in the later half. In all, Japan won 3 to 0 over Macau. Japan, as a result, did not lose any goals in the qualifier. Macau, by the way, was headed by Eiji Ueda who was the head coach for Bellmare Hiratsuka last season. He's the only Japanese coaching a national team outside of Japan.

Japan in Carlsberg Cup in Hong Kong
* Japan vs. Mexico on February 5
A newly formed national team under Philippe Troussier played in an international match for the first time. The team had chances but could not goal. In fact, Mexico was the one to goal in the second half. It was by Angel Zepeda. Kazuyoshi Miura who made a national team comeback after the losing his place before the World Cup in France played in the final 15 minutes of the game. The 32-year old former superstar failed to goal. The result was a 0 to 1 loss for Japan. Japan has no wins in the past 8 international matches.
* Japan vs. Hong Kong on February 8
Japan defeated Hong Kong as a result of a PK 6 to 5. It took 3rd place.

Nanami goals at last
Just before the end of the first half of the game on Jan.23, Hiroshi Nanami, with his left leg kicked in a goal. It's his first since he's joined Venezia in Sept. 1999. However, his team lost to Udinese 2 to 5.

Jo plays his first game in Spain League
Shoji Jo did not get to start the game on Jan. 16, but at last in the later half, he was given 8 minutes to play. He did have a couple of opportunities to touch the ball and get down to a good position near the goal. But that was all. His team, Valladolid defeated Numancia 2 to 0. On Jan 23, he was given a little longer to play. And he even got to try heading the ball toward the goal, but couldn't quite make it.

Jo signs with Spain League team
Yokohama F Marinos unveiled on Jan.6 that Shoji Jo will play for a Spanish club team, Valladolid. He will be on a six-month loan. Jo, a national team striker had been negotiating with another Spanish league team, but talks fell apart. He will be the first Japanese to play in Spain.

Grampus clinches in Emperor's Cup
The final of the domestic competition between both professional and non-professional teams was held on Jan. 1. San Frecce Hiroshima and Nagoya Grampus Eight faced eachother. San Frecce was controlling the ball longer, or so it seemed. But it was Grampus that scored first. 11 minutes into the later half, Wagner Lopes received a pass from Dragan Stoijkovic and headed in a goal. Then it was Stoijkovic himself who goaled soon after. Grampus Eight proved victorious with a 2 - 0 win.

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