Japan rises higher in world ranking
According to FIFA's final calculation of the world ranking for 1997 on Dec. 23, Japan is number 14. It's the highest Japan has ever been ranked in soccer. This time last year, Japan was ranked 21.

The 18th Toyota Cup
German club team Borussia Dortmund faced Brazil's Cruzeiro. A crowd of almost 47,000 turned up at Tokyo's National Stadium on a chilly night on Dec. 2. In the 34th minute, Dortmund's eldest player at age 35, Michael Zorc kicked in a goal. 40 minutes into the later half, the 2nd goal for the Dortmund was scored by Heiko Herrlich. It's the first time a German team captured the Toyota Cup. The Japanese fans were actually cheering on Cruzeiro somewhat more. Cruzeiro was skippered by Nelsinho who was the manager of Kawasaki Verdy. Superstar well known to the Japanese such as Bebeto and Donizete were on the team too. They were actually hired especially for the Toyota Cup.
Michiyo's Note: It was quite thrilling just watching the skills the players of both teams displayed. I hate to say this, but it's no comparison to what a Japanese player can give.

Japan's world ranking
FIFA's has ranked Japan number 18 in the world on Nov. 19. That's 2 notches up from Oct. 1996.

Kirin Cup Soccer '97
June 8Japan vs. Croatia (National Stadium in Tokyo)
June 12Bulgaria vs. Croatia (Sendai Stadium)
June 15Japan vs. Croatia (Nagai Stadium in Osaka )

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