Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Japanese Abroad: Season Preview 10/11

Yuto Nagatomo (長友 佑都)

After a string of great performances at the World Cup, Japan's first choice leftback will be moving to Italy to prove his merit.

Nagatomo is one of the quickest players to establish himself in Japan. After failing to gain the attention of scouts he decided to play at a University where he established himself as one of the best prospects in Japan. After leaving Meiji University he signed with J1 side FC Tokyo. It was during the 2008 season that Nagatomo showed his quickness and stamina along with some fierce offensive ability. After 3 seasons in the J-League Nagatomo established himself as one of the best fullbacks in the league. It was during the 2008 season that he received his first call-up into the national team in a match against Syria.

Nagatomo, as expected, was the starting leftback for Japan in the 2010 World Cup. Despite playing several games as right back for his club FC Tokyo, Nagatomo showed no signs of losing his ability at the position of leftback. He impressed by supporting Japan's lack luster offensive and showing calm and collective defense in the face of some of the best attacking players in the world.

Nagatomo will face the tough challenge of playing in an extremely physical league. The key to his success will be his ability to adapt to much bigger and stronger players than he is used to in Japan. The fact that he is playing for a lower tier club could help him mentally because the expectations will not be as high. Another aspect that will play to his advantage is the fact that this will only be a loan move. If it doesn't work out as expected he can always come back. This is an intriguing move because Nagatomo will be the first Japanese defender to ever play in Serie A.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Japanese Abroad: Season Preview 10/11

Eiji Kawashima (川島永嗣)

Japan's "Guardian Deity" will be moving to Sk Lierse in the Belgian Jupilar League next season and its time to look at the past present and future for him.

Kawashima began his career at Omiya Ardija where he accumulated 43 caps. He then moved to Nagoya Grampus where his playing time was severely limited by the Seigo Narazaki. Because of the lack of playing time, Kawashima moved to Kawasaki Frontale where he would establish himself as the first-choice goalkeeper and one of the best in the league. Frontale's transformation into one of the power houses of the J-League mirrors Kawashima's own progression into a top class goalkeeper. Despite having one of the worst defenses in the league, Kawashima managed to show his value to the team by making countless saves and helping Frontale to the top of the table.

Kawashima was not seen as the first choice goal keeper for Japan until after his great performance against England where he managed to save a penalty kick from Frank Lampard. After that match Kawashima solidified his spot as the first choice goal keeper ahead of longtime rival Seigo Narazaki. Kawashima impressed in his World Cup debut only conceding 2 goals in 4 matches against top sides including the World Cup runner-ups the Netherlands. Kawashima showed a commanding presence in the box and displayed a lot of passion. One of the moments that defines Kawashima was during the Denmark match. Although Kawashima managed to save the first penalty kick attempt he failed to stop the rebound. Kawashima erupted in a fit of anger, banging his fists on the ground. Kawashima shows the kind of passion that only few footballers have.

Kawashima will probably have the most difficult time of all of the Japanese players abroad this season. The language barrier will be difficult to overcome. Communication is crucial for goalkeepers and if Kawashima is unable to communicate well then he will have many problems. But if there is one goalkeeper in Japan who I think can succeed in Europe it is Kawashima. The man does not take anything for granted and is a fighter.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Japanese Abroad: Season Preview 10/11

The next player that I will be discussing is Atsuto Uchida who will be playing for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga.

Uchida has been one of the most promising defensive prospects in the last couple of seasons in Japan. After debuting for Kashima Antlers at the age of 18, he has been the first choice right back for the past 3 seasons. His play has gotten him voted into the J-League Best 11 for the past 2 seasons. Uchida is known for his great defensive play along with some stellar offensive ability. He has been a staple for the national team since he made his debut.

Uchida played 5 seasons for the Kashima Antlers and has helped them to 3 straight J-League titles. Uchida did make the final 23 for the World Cup, but did not take part in a single match. Although he was replaced with Komano because of his experience, Uchida should be the first choice right back for Japan for many more years.

Uchida will have some heavy competition at Schalke 04 at the position of right back. Rafinha is considered a starter and will probably get the majority of the playing time. Although Uchida is not guaranteed any playing time I believe that this will motivate him to improve which will help him push towards the starting position.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Japanese Abroad: Season Preview 10/11

The first player that I will be discussing is Shinji Kagawa who will be playing for Borussia Dortmund in the upcoming season.

Prior to joining Dortmund Kagawa was leading the scoring charts in J1 with an impressive 7 goals in 11 games from the midfield. Kagawa dominated J2 the previous season with 27 goals in 44 games, securing the scoring title. Kagawa was pretty much carrying Cerezo before his transfer to Dortmund. After the disappointment of not being selected in the World Cup squad, it was announced that Kagawa would be transferring for a measly fee of 350,000 Euros. For Cerezo the loss of Kagawa is huge coupled with Inui's disappointing performances it will be difficult for them to stay up this season.

Right now it looks like Kagawa will have to earn his place in the starting eleven. With the addition of Lewandowski, Dortmund has a strong line-up of strikers including Barrios, and Valdez. Although Kagawa will not directly compete with these players he will probably have to adjust to not being the single scoring threat on the team. I think that the most difficult part for Kagawa will be learning to pass more and trust his teammates. He will have to buff up physically, but the most important part will be to learn how to adjust mentally.

This will definitely be an interesting season for Kagawa. If he can establish himself as a legitimate scoring from midfield then he will be able to shine.


After a long hiatus I have decided to revive this blog and start updating.

Here are some of the topics I will be covering this coming season.

Japanese players abroad
Japanese football (J1, J2, etc)
European transfers

Stay tuned

Friday, June 19, 2009

J1 Predictions June 20

Kawasaki-F v Oita (3-0)
Shimizu v Yamagata (2-1)
G-Osaka v Niigata (3-1)
Nagoya v Chiba (2-2)
Kashima v Iwata (2-1)
Omiya v Kyoto (0-1)
Kashiwa v FC-Tokyo (0-2)
Hiroshima v Kobe (3-2)
Yokohama-M v Urawa (2-2)

Inamoto joins Stade Rennais

World Cup 2002 hero Junichi Inamoto has joined Stade Rennais. Inamoto played for German club Eintracht Frankfurt. I think that this would be a good move for him and that he will adjust nicely to the Ligue 1. Good luck to him in the coming season and hopefully he can help Rennes qualify for Europe