Modified on June 30, 2010.
June 29: Japan vs Paraguay
In Pretoria, the match was held. The Paraguay side held onto the ball more than the Samurai Blue. But the Japanese had many shots at the goal which almost made it. This includes attempts in Keisuke Honda and Daisuke Matsui. Great defense by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and Tulio Tanaka. The match went into extra time but neither side could goal. For the first time at this World Cup, the verdict would be based on a penalty shoot out. The first to go from the Japan side was Yasuhito Endo. He made it. And so did captain Makoto Hasebe. But Yuichi Komano's shot hit the crossbar. In the end, Paraguay won the shoot out 5 to 3 and securedits place in the quarterfinals for the first time ever.
June 24: Japan vs Denmark
Japan was required to finish the game a draw or better to advance to the top 16. But such concern was wiped out following successful free kicks by Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo. In the later half, Denmark's Jon Dahl Tomasson shoved in a rebound from a free kick temporarily stopped by goalkeeper Kenji Kawashima. Then close to the end of he game, Shinji Okazaki kicked in a goal after receiving the ball from Honda. It was an incredible win of 3 to 1 to Japan. Japan's made it to the top 16 for the first time on foreign soil, and plays Paraguay on June 29.
June 19: Japan vs Netherlands
The game was held in Durban with the temperature about 22 degrees. The starting line up for Samurai Blue was the same as for the game against Cameroon. In the beginning of the game, defense was heavy. The Netherlands had control of the ball most of the time. Then in the later half, 8 minutes into the came, Wesley Sneijder shot towards the goal. Kenji Kawashima could not stop the ball from landing inside the goal. Japan's Yoshito Okubo fired 3 times towards the goal but none made it in. Shunsuke Nakamura was in the game for the first time. Just at the 44th minute of the later half, Shinji Okazaki had a shot at the goal, but the ball went over the crossbar. It was a 0 to 1 defeat for Samurai Blue.
June 14: Japan vs Cameroon
The starting line-up did not include Shunsuke Nakamura. It had Keisuke Honda, the most popular player today. And he performed. In the 39th minute he goaled. Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima saved the ball many times. Japan won 1 to 0. The victory reversed Japanese fans very little hope that Samura Blue can win any matches in the World Cup.
PRE 2010 WORLD CUP
Samurai Blue played against England on May 31 in Austria. In the 7th minute, Marcus Tulio Tanaka kicked in a goal. But in the latter half, Japan lost 2 goals, due to own goals by Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa. And so Japan was defeated 1 to 2 by England.
Team leaves for pre WC training
Early on May 26, the team left Tokyo's Haneda Airport for Switzerland. Despite the wee hours, there were 50 fans to wish the team luck.
Japan announces national team roster
Japan's 23 national team players for the World Cup was unveiled on May 10. As expected Shunsuke Nakamura and Yuji Nakazawa of the Yokohama Marinos was chosen. Those with overseas teams include Takayuki Moromoto of Catanilla, Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow. The surprising choice was Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was chosen. The veteran goalkeeper has not bee playing at all this season due to a broken shin.
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