Tuesday, March 1, 2011
THE SECRET BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF JAPAN'S BLUE SAMURAI
1. To what do you attribute Japan's great success at the Asian Cup ?
With great performances at the World Cup and Asian Cup, the Japanese football came of age this season. It took 18 years of professional league and a lot of trial and error, but finally it seems as the Samurai Blue have found a perfect mix of tactical and technical skills. No doubts that Zaccheroni has done a great job with the players. So, hard work over the years...
2. How much financial support does Japan's football team get from the government and private sector ?
Limited compared to what clubs in Europe or pro-sport teams and players in the US get. A few multinationals and big conglomerate still sponsor the league and a few top clubs, but most teams in the J.League still live out of small local sponsors, tickets sales and merchandizing. To give you an example, a top-team coach, a former captain at the 2002 World Cup, earns now about $3,000/month.
3. Despite the team's young players, the Blue Samurai played extremely well and did not show signs of inexperience at the Asian Cup. Why do you think this was so ?
I'd call it the "Kagawa-effect." Japanese players have been good for at least a decade, they just needed to start believing it. Shinji Kagawa at Dortmund showed that a young Japanese player can excel in a top European league, and now everybody is believing it. In other words, there has been a huge increase in self-confidence, especially among young players.
4. How important is a good coach to a team like the Blue Samurai ?
It is crucial. Okada in the end did a good job, but having an Italian now coach adds confidence and unity. It brings the team to a completely different dimension. Zaccheroni's intelligence and expertise surely added a lot to the Samurai Blue, and I believe it was that "extra" that Japan was able to pull out results in the Asian Cup when all seemed lost.
5. Why do Japanese people love the Blue Samurai ?
With the country on an economic and cultural slump, the young players of Japan represent the young, clean and winning face of the country. It is very easy to love them...
6. Football has become popular in the Philippines because of the Azkals, the Philippine national football team. What do you think are the things that need to be done for the Azkals to become as successful as the Blue Samurai ?
To be realistic, you need the media to promote soccer. That will mean more children playing the sport, and more sponsors and experts coming to the Philippines.
7. How many players of the Blue Samurai play in leagues and tournaments outside Japan ? What is the advantage of having players playing abroad ?
There are about fifteen players in European leagues and many more around the rest of the world. Those playing in Europe of course get used to a higher level of soccer, and help the performance of the
Samurai Blue to improve. It is no surprise that the dominant national teams in Asia are Japan, South Korea and Australia, all featuring many Europe-based players.
8. Is Keisuke Honda still the most popular player in the Japanese team ?
Honestly, I believe that Nagatomo, now at Inter Milan has taken over the spot of Keisuke. Inter is the European and World Champion, so it is a honor for Japan to have a player in such a famous club. Everybody is happy, but also almost incredulous. Add the fact hat as much as Honda is cool, Nagatomo is entertaining. He is a very nice guy, everybody like him. he is definitely #1, at the moment.
9. In the latest FIFA World ranking, Japan is now 17th among the best in football. Do you expect Japan to further go up the world ranking before the year ends ?
Surely nobody thinks anymore that Japan is soccerly speaking a "third world" country. We'll see what happens this next summer when Japan goes to play in South America!
Posted by efd at 6:55 PM