Modified on July 1, 2002.

NOTE: This site focuses on World Cup related news in Japan.

Brazil clinched World Cup for the 5th time
Penta campiao, as the Brazilians say it. The final in Yokohama on June 30 was hot with the majority of the crowd wearing yellow. In the later half, Ronaldo's shoot hit German's wonderful goal keeper Oliver Kahn. It bounced back to Ronaldo and he drives it in. Then it was Ronaldo again 2 minutes later kicking the ball Kahn. Brazil clinched the World Cup trophy for the 5th time. Brazilian captain Cafu held up high the trophy in cheers. What a sight! By the way, it was learned the Kahn's hand was badly injured during the match. But he stayed on to play. A big applause to Ollie.
Michiyo's Note: I was around the stadium and saw the match at a public viewing site with the local people and visitors from around the world. It was a blast. There were no rows. The atmosphere was friendly. Now it's sad that the great event is all over. At least, it was a successful one. It was just so exciting that the Japanese who on the average are not big in soccer turned to the sport.

Brazil beats Turkey for 2nd time
Brazil and Turkey faced eachother for the 2nd time in the World Cup on June 26. It's at the Saitama Stadium. Ronaldo who's leg was not in the best shape played. And it was he who shot a swift goal 4 minutes into the 2nd half of the match. He was replaced soon after. The Turks had control of the ball a number of times, but failed to goal. Brazil won 1-0 advancing to the final for the 3rd World Cup in a row.

History rewritten for Asia
Co-host of this World Cup finals, South Korea clinched a competitive match against Spain on June 22 in a penalty shoot out. South Korea became the first team from Asia to advance to the top 4. Meanwhile, Turkey which beat Japan in its previous match defeated Senegal with a golden goal. But in one of the semi-finals on June 25, South Korea could not advance further losing 0 to 1 to Germany.

Super powers meet in quarterfinals
At the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on June 21, soccer kingdom Brazil faced the founding father England. In the 23rd minute, Michael Owen got hold of a missed pass to goal. During loss time in the first half, Rivaldo kicked in a wonderful pass from Ronaldinho. Then 5 minutes into the later half, Ronaldinho's free kick banged into the net to give Brazil the lead. However, 7 minutes after that wonderful shoot, Ronaldinho was taken out with a red card. Brazil had to play the rest of the match short of a player. But Brazil withstood. Brazil won 2 to 1 to clinch its 4th World Cup match against England.

Japan is out of the World Cup
In the pouring rain Japan played Turkey on June 18 at Miyagi Stadium. It was supposed to be a sell out crowd. But 700 seats were found empty. It's reported that the ticketing agency Byrom had not counted those seats. As to the game, Turkey's Umit Davala headed in a goal in the 12th minute. It was an early goal, so there was lots of time for Japan to catch up. But the cheers mostly turned to groans. Japan lost the match 0 to 1. It failed to make the top 8. Meanwhile, co-host South Korea beat Italy 2 to 1 to advance again.
Michiyo's Note : For many Japanese the national team's great performance during the World Cup seems to have united the country for the first time in decades. Many soccer fans are happy with the team's achievement, but sad that no more Japan matches willbe played in this World Cup.

Japan qualifies to top 16
Even a loss would give Japan a berth in the top 16 if it's within one goal in its game against Tunisia on June 14 in Osaka. What happened was, just a few minutes into the later half of the game, Hiroaki Morishima of Cerezo Osaka who replaced Atsushi Yanagisawa shot in a goal. Then it was Japan's great international player Hidetoshi Nakata who dived to head in hitting the goalkeeper and going passed. Japan defeated Tunisia 2 to 0. The total point Japan earned in Group H was 7, or number one in the group. By the way, the South Korean team which played against Portugal won too 1 to 0, making it to the next stage. It was an historic day for Asia.

Top candidates gone in group competition
On June 11, France lost to Denmark 0 to 2, finishing the World Cup without even achieving one goal. On June 12 another upset. As Argentina could only tie with Sweden 1 to 1, it's chance to advance was shattered for the first time in 40 years.

Japan clinches historical victory
Japan was in full power defending and attacking the Russian team on June 9 at the International Stadium Yokohama. The match was attended by honorary chairman of the Japan Football Association, Prince and Princess Takamado who both shook hands with all the players starting the match. Also, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was watching from the stands. In all 66,000 were in the stadium. It was 6 minutes into the later half of the game, Junichi Inamoto of Arsenal received a pass from Atsushi Yanagisawa of Kashima Antlers in front of the goal and kicked it in. It's Inamoto's 2nd World Cup goal already. The Russians attacked the Japan goal a number of times, but did not quite make it. Japan clinched the game 1 to 0. It's the country's first World Cup finals victory ever. It's also earned an additional 3 points, or 4 points in all so far.

Final game at Kashima
The game between Italy and Croatia on June 8 was the final match hosted at Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki Prefecture. Christian Vieri goaled in the 2nd half. But then after, Croatia succeeded in 2 goals. Although there were goals which Italy claimed were valid close to the end of the game, the game closed, Italy's 1 to 2 loss.

Japan plays first match
Host country Japan played Belgium at the Saitama Stadium on June 4. The match was attended by the Japanese and Belgian crown princes and princesses. The whole country was practically united to cheer on Japan. It was in the later hald of the game that excitement built up. It began with Marc Wilmots's overhead kick which goaled. Soon after Japan caught up with Takayuki Suzuki's goal. Then Junichi Inamoto of Arsenal dribbled the ball himself to goal. However, Belgium caught up with Japan. Close to the end, it appeared that Junichi Inamoto kicked in a goal again, but a foul was called, thus the goal was not credited. The game ended 2 to 2. But for Japan which has only one goal in 1998 France, the performance was not bad. Besides, Japan was able to earn its first point in the World Cup. In other matches of the day, co-host South Korea defeated Poland 2 to 0. Both goals were by players with Japan's Kashiwa Reysol. It's the Koreans first World Cup victory ever. China lost to Costa Rica 0 to 2.

Italy up and running
Italy played its first game on June 3 at the Sapporo Dome. It faced first timer to the World Cup finals Equador. Christian Vieri goaled twice in the first half, giving Italy a 2 to 0 win. 4 time champion Brazil played its first game too. It's in Korea. Turkey goaled first, by in the end Brazil won 2 to 1.

Superstars perform in Group of Death
Group F which is regarded as the most competitive group kicked off to matches on June 2. Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina goaled in the 63rd minute of the game. It was a header. Argentina won 1 to 0 to Nigeria. English captain David Beckham was on the pitch. He seemed cautious about not running into the opponents. If I ball was passed to him, he won't keep it with him too long. But he gave effective passes. In the 24th minute, his corner kick was headed in by Campball for a goal. He did not play the whole game though. In the 59th minute, Sweden's Alexandersson goaled. The game ended 1 to 1. The game was attended by Prince Andrew.
Michiyo's Note: By the way, more ticket trouble came to light. As it was learned the previous day that the stadiums were not packed, FIFA decided to approve the sell of tickets on the day. Still for the 2 games a total 11,000 seats were reported empty.

Japan hosts the first World Cup matches
The opening match for Japan was in Niigata on June 1. It was Ireland vs Cameroon. Patrick Mboma goaled for Cameroon in the first half, delighting many Japanese soccer fans as he's played in the J.League's Gamba Osaka in the past. Besides, the Cameroon team was the center of attention in the Japanese TV media due to its 5 day delay to arrive in a town with a population less than 2000. Ireland caught in the later half and the game ended 1 to 1. In Sapporo, the Germans exploded defeating Saudia Arabia 8 to 0.
Michiyo's Note: I took the bullet train to Niigata from Tokyo on the day. I was amazed to see so many from Ireland. They were all in their trademark green. One man I spoke to said that he quit his job to see the World Cup in Japan. Also, by travelling, I realized that Japan has become a more foreigner friendly country. There are more signboards in various languages at major train stations as well as announcements on the bullet trains too.

Opening Ceremony in Soeul & first game
On May 31, the long awaited first FIFA World Cup kicked off in Asia. And it's the first co-hosted by 2 countries. The opening ceremony was attended by the leaders of the co-hosts, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who gave an energetic speech, and Korean President Kim Dae Jung. Representing the Japanese imperial family were Prince and Princess Takamado, cousins of Emperor Akihito. After the one hour ceremony, the first match was on. It's between last champion France and first timer Senegal. Unfortunately French striker Zinedine Zidane was out due to an injury. In the 30th minute, Senegal's midfielder Papa Bouba Diop goaled on his butt. Although the French side went for the goal many times the match ended. It's a major upset of 1 to 0 for Senegal.

World Cup participants all set
On May 25, the English team arrived at Kansai International Airport welcomed by 700 fans. Members included David Beckham, and Michael Owen. Japan's rival in Group H, Russia landed in Nagoya International Airport. Meanwhile France which was practicing in Japan left for South Korea where they will be playing the first round of matches. Still the team gaining the most attention in Japan is Cameroon. Why? Well, they came in 5 days late into a small village in Oita Prefecture southern Japan called Nakatsue. The Japanese media have been reporting on the delay every day in depth. They reached the village before sunrise on the 24th.

Japan announces national team roster
Japan's 23 national team players for the World Cup was unveiled on May 17. As expected Hidetoshi Nakata of Parma, Shinji Ono of Feyenoord, Junichi Inamoto of Arsenal were chosen. The surprise names were veterans Yutaka Akita and Masashi "Gon" Nakayama. The 2 were not even invited to play in any of the recent friendly matches to prepare for the World Cup. Brazilian born Santos Alessandro was on the roster too. The disappointment was, Yokohama Marinos midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura who achieved goals in the friendly match against Honduras was not appointed. Neither was Hiroshi Nanmi of Jubilo Iwata.

Costa Rica--first to arrive
Costa Rica's national team arrived in Kansai International Airport on May 13 and arrived in Suzuka. They plan to camp in Japan along with 23 other teams. But they will not play the preliminary rounds in the country as they're in Group C. Games are allocated in South Korea.

In 2001
Grouping for Japan
At the World Cup draw held in South Korea's Pusan on Dec 1, the grouping for all 32 teams were decided. Japan is seeded at Group H, and will fact Belgium, Russia and Tunisia in that order. The Japanese side is reported to be showing confidence to advance to the final round.

Internet sales postponed
Nationwide applications for ticket began on Feb. 15. But on the day, most ticket centers were already out of forms. As for internet reservation, it could not be launched. And the reason is claimed to be due to computer problems. In case the problem is not solved JAWOC is said to be printing another 2 million application forms. There is possibility that application may be valid only through postal mail.

1st round of application closing date
JAWOC announced on Jan.29, that the reservation for the first batch of tickets which begins on Feb. 15 will close on Mar. 14. This includes reservation via postal mail and the internet. If reservation exceeds the available ticket, the winners will be announced in June. There will be 504,000 tickets on sale. For the details, go to http://www.FIFAworldcup.com

In 2000
Ticket application date set
The first batch of application will be accepted from Feb 15, 2001 according to JAWOC on Nov. 24, It should be possible in Japan and from other parts of the world, but as to how it can be made is to be announced later.

Ticket sales disclosed
FIFA decided on Mar. 24 that the first batch of tickets will go on sale Oct. 2000. 3 million tickets will be available. But later the date was postponed. Japan was in a dispute with FIFA with regards to placing tax on tickets.

In 1999
Preliminary draw in Tokyo
Some of the greatest soccer heroes were in Tokyo on Dec. 7 to witness the preliminary draw for Asia's first World Cup. It was held at the Tokyo International Forum. Pele, Beckenbaur, Sir Charlton were among the spectators. Japanese sports stars such as Kimiko Date, Konishiki were there. A record number of 195 countries and regions which have confirmed entry into the 2002 World Cup were in the draw. Last World Cup France, and co-hosts Japan and South Korea are exempted from playing in the preliminaries. The most impressive grouping was in Europe's Group 9 where England and Germany were slated to play. North Korea withdrew earlier on, but South Korea is still seeking possibility of the north hosting 2 of the 2002 games.

Final in Yokohama
The site for the final was competed between Asia's largest soccer stadium which is currently being built in Urawa, Saitama Prefecture, and Yokohama International Stadium which is already in use. On July 12, it was disclosed that the final will be awarded to Yokohama. This is because it is conveniently located, and has a capacity for a huge audience. Urawa is expected to be the host to one of the semi-finals. Official announcement will be held July 26.

In 1998
South Korea decides to build new stadium
South Korea is determined to build a new stadium in Soeul for the Opening Ceremony, according to an announcement by the country's official source on May 6. The cost is expected to come to 20 billion yen and will be built on wasteland. South Korea was said to have dropped the plan according to a report on Apr. 8. New South Korean President Kim Dai Jung had been promoting the use of already existing stadiums for the 2002 World Cup, since the country had been affected by the harsh economic situation. However, it is reported that the country changed its plans. One reason is due to the fact that it must comply with the agreement it had made with FIFA to win the World Cup.

Another South Korea vs. Japan 2002 friendly match
Japan's star striker Kazu Miura was not among the members for the game on Apr. 1 in South Korea's Olympic Stadium. Manager Takeshi Okada decided that he had no use for him this time, and instead called teenagers to join the national team. Daisuke Ichikawa became the youngest ever in Japan at 17 years and 10 months to play on the national squad. As for the field, it was wet and muddy from the rain. Passes would not go through smoothly because of the bad condition. The game though was quite exciting. Both sides appeared to have equal oppotunities to aim for eachother's goals. In the 41st minute, it was South Korea's Lee Sang Yoon who headed in the first goal. Then 17 minutes into the later half, Masashi Nakayama came right into the goal and kicked the ball. He received a pass from rising star Hidetoshi Nakata. However, in the 28th minute, Hwang Sun Hong successful kicked in the team's winning goal. It was a 2 to 1 victory for S. Korea. It 's been a while since S.Korea's had defeated Japan.

In 1997
Japan vs. South Korea 2002 friendly match
To celebrate the 2 countries cohosting of the 2002 World Cup, the national teams of Japan and South Korea faced eachother at Tokyo's National Stadium on May 21, 1997. 11 minutes into the later half of the game, South Korea's Yoo Sang Chul used his head to give his team a goal. Japan kept on attacking the South Korean goal but failed to score. Then, with 2 minutes left Japan was given a chance for a penalty kick. Ace striker Kazu Miura succeeded in bringing the game to a tie. So the friendly match ended without giving the teams harding feelings about eachother.

Back to Index on Soccer