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Japan Football Blog

Sorry for the extended absence–I just finished school and graduated. There was a lot to tie up at the end and things got quite busy, but graduation was one of the proudest days of my life. Congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2012!
While I’ve been away, there has been a lot going on in the world of Japanese football. For one, the next round of World Cup qualification began. Japan has got off to a flying start, and the match with Australia was one of the more electric qualifying matches …

Nineteen year-old Yoshiaki Takagi scored his first goal for FC Utrecht. The goal came in the 48th minute of Utrecht’s 3-1 win away at Roda JC. It was the final game of the Eredivisie season for both teams. Let’s see if Takagi’s good play for Utrecht will get him noticed and considered for a spot on the Olympic team. Highlight here.

Borussia Dortmund clinched the Bundesliga title this weekend with a 2-0 home win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Shinji Kagawa scored the second goal, with a neat finish around Marc-Andre ter Stegen. His goal set off rapturous celebrations around the Westfalenstadion, with Jurgen Klopp running all the way from the technical area to be the first person to greet him. It was a fantastic scene, and it was good to see a great team finally break Bayern’s biennial tradition of being champions. Kagawa now has thirteen league goals, and should be a …

Borussia Dortmund look set to retain their Bundesliga title, after beating local rivals Schalke 2-1. Goals from Lukasz Pisczek and Sebastian Kehl were enough to overturn an early stunner from Jefferson Farfan. Shinji Kagawa played the entire match. Atsuto Uchida started and was substituted for Ciprian Marica in the 85th minute. The victory, coupled with Bayern’s 0-0 draw at home to Mainz, puts Dortmund eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, with three matches to go. Highlights.
Ryo Miyaichi came off the bench for Chris Eagles in Bolton’s 2-0 …

After the first two rounds of the J. League, four teams have a perfect record. Vegalta Sendai, Vissel Kobe, F.C. Tokyo, and Kawasaki Frontale have all started off with two wins. At the other end of the table, Kashima Antlers, Albirex Niigata, and Gamba Osaka have two losses. Here’s a roundup of some notable matches and the star performers.
Vegalta Sendai beat Kashima Antlers 1-0 on the first matchday. Defender Taikai Uemoto scored the only goal in the 62nd minute on his Vegalta debut. Keeper Takuto Hayashi made a fantastic reaction …

Shinji Kagawa scored the only goal of the match as Borussia Dortmund defeated Werder Bremen 1-0. The win maintains Dortmund’s 5 point lead over Bayern Munich and extends their Bundesliga record unbeaten run to 20 matches. The goal was another great team move with Ilkay Gundogan selflessly laying it on a plate for Kagawa to score his ninth league goal of the season. Not a bad way to celebrate his 23rd birthday. Highlights.
Shinji Okazaki sat out Stuttgart’s 2-1 win over Hoffenheim through injury. He will be out for around three …

Sorry for the lull, finals were once again in the way. Here are some updates to make up for it.
Japan has qualified for the London Olympics. The U-23’s defeated Bahrain 2-0 to book their tickets to the summer tournament. Second-half goals from Takahiro Ogihara and Hiroshi Kiyotake sealed the win.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naFhFxuWztg&feature=related
The senior side has been put in Group B for the fourth round of World Cup Qualification. Japan will play Australia, Iraq, Jordan, and Oman over the course of the next year. Australia will probably be the toughest opponents, but Iraq …

Japan lost its final third round World Cup Qualifier to Uzbekistan on Wednesday. Alexandr Shadrin scored the only goal in the 53rd minute. It’s a disappointing result, but not one to fret too much over.
Both teams had secured qualification so it could’ve played out as a friendly, but Japan fielded its strongest lineup. Shinji Kagawa was a surprise inclusion, after initially being expected to miss out because of injury. Only Keisuke Honda was missing.
In fact, Uzbekistan was the more injury-troubled team, with 5 usual starters missing out, including captain and two-time Asian Footballer …

Shinji Okazaki scored for the third league match in a row, as Stuttgart beat Freiburg 4-1. Okazaki got on the end of an excellent cross from Martin Harnik in the 21st minute to make give Die Schwaben a 2-0 lead. It was his 7th goal of the season. Gotoku Sakai, on loan from Albirex Niigata, retained his place as the starting rightback, playing the full 90 minutes. The win lifted Stuttgart into 8th place as they aim for the European places. Highlights.
Robert Cullen scored his second goal of the season, …

The team to play Uzbekistan on Wednesday has been announced. Unlike the Iceland friendly, this match is on a FIFA date so most of the overseas players have been included. No place for Honda or Kagawa though….
Goalkeepers (rookies in bold): Eiji Kawashima, Kaito Yamamoto, and Shusaku Nishikawa.
Defenders: Yuichi Komano, Yasuyuki Konno, Yuzo Kurihara, Yuto Nagatomo, Masahiko Inoha, Tomoaki Makino, Maya Yoshida, and Atsuto Uchida.
Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo, Kengo Nakamura, Chikashi Masuda, Yosuke Kashiwagi, Makoto Hasebe, and Hajime Hosogai.
Forwards: Ryo Miyaichi, Tadanari Lee, Mike Havenaar, Shinji Okazaki, Jungo Fujimoto, and Takashi Inui.
Obviously …