Posted by: MOIST | June 29, 2010

Ascension or Asuncion?

Game 11! Two more than we ever dreamed of and huge potential for another.

The last surviving member of the Asian Invasion go into today’s game knowing they are a win away from history. Never, and let me emphasis that, never in the field of World Cup football is so much owed by so many to so few, as famed one-eighth Japanese movie star Richard Gere said in Pretty Woman.

Never, as I think I mentioned before, have Japan gone beyond the second round. Even in 2002, on home soil, they went out in the ridiculously monikered Round of 16.

This year, though, there is a real sense of hope. An emphatic win over the Danes has really upped the confidence and Japan have been lucky that Group F was seemingly pants. Most people would have expected Italy to be today’s opponents before the competition started so surely Paraguay is a great result?

Paraguay, eh? Are they actually any good? Draws with Italy (rubbish), New Zealand (a team with a bank worker) and a win against Slovakia (depends which team turned up) paint a mixed picture. Solid at the back and with Ricky Holy Cross a potential threat up front they have the players to trouble Japan if they get into their stride.

Will Nakazawa and Tulio continue their fine run of form and nullify the Paraguyuan attack? Will Honda be able to unlock the solid Paraguayan defence and work his magic? Will Kawashima drop another clanger? Does anyone know anyone famous from Paraguay other than football players? And which team will be screwed by Sepp Blatter still dreaming of an 18th century football utopia?

Very few of these questions and more answered by EAiSA’s panel of handpicked experts. The brightest minds to come out of Japan tell you, the EAiSA reader, just who’s going to keep you glued to your TV for 90 minutes.

Dean Cain: TV ‘star’, actor, Superman and winger for Albirex Niigata.

Player to watch: Daisuke Matsui. Does what all good wingers do, gets up and down the flank for 90 minutes. There’s no I in team but there are 2 in Daisuke Matsui which is why he is such a team player.

Game style: I expect it to be tight, like my Superman costume, and not open like Teri Hatcher’s legs after filming, with few scoring chances. The winner will come from a set-piece.

Prediction: 1-0 Japan. Either a direct free-kick or a header from a corner. Right, time to find some real work.

Tricia Takanawa: Reporter, Asian, Asian reporter and 2004 Olympic silver medalist with the Japan Women’s Football Team.

Player to watch: Yuji Nakazawa. Thank you, Tom. I’m here at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium to talk about the big haired centre back. He’s been an absolute rock alongside Tulio and Mick McCarthy is in love with him.

Game style: Thank you, Tom. I’m here in the tactics room to look at how the game will pan out. Both teams are solid at the back so don’t expect many goals. It might even go to extra time.

Prediction: 2-1 Japan AET. Thank you, Tom. I’m here on the pitch to let you know it will be 2-1 after extra time  to Japan.

Asia Carrera: Porn star, member of MENSA, athiest and reserve goalie for Real Salt Lake.

Player to watch: Keisuke Honda. He’s so hot. He’s a great weapon up front and, if his tight shorts are anything to go by, he has a great weapon up front. You never want to injure a fellow pro but I’d love to pull his groin for him.

Game style: Both teams are so muscular at the back and play so deep, I know I’d love to feel their muscles playing deep against me from the back. The game will be so tight and I think it will be so hot and wet because of the conditions.

Prediction: 0-0, Japan to win 5-4 on penalties. The game will be so long and hard but I think in the end it will come down to 5 strokes in the box.

It seems the Japanese are very confident of the win. Fingers, legs and one player in tic-tac-toe crossed for the Samurai Blue.

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