Saturday, June 19, 2010
The Netherlands are doing all they can to ensure that Arjen Robben have a role to play in the World Cup. They have one foot in the Round of 16 with a comfortable 1-0 win against the Blue Samurais. In registering their second win in the group phase, the Oranjemen need only a Cameroon-Denmark draw to be the first team in the knockout phases.
Sneijder had the Jabulani ball to thank for his goal. Kawashima, brilliant against Cameroon, was caught out by the swerve and movement of the ball. This Jabulani ball can make even the most experienced goalkeeper look like rookies on the world stage. I am not sure that players are fully exploiting the unpredictability of the ball.
Japan did the best they could, considering that they do not have a dependable striker. I thought Takayuki Morimoto would be a good choice to shoulder Japan's striking responsibilities. The Catania striker has had a fantastic time in Italy. His size, strength and speed is a perfect complement to the guile and trickery of Keisuke Honda. If Arsenal and Manchester United have scouted Morimoto, then the 22-year old must have the qualities to succeed. Maybe Okada thinks the forward known as the "Asian Ronaldo" is too inexperienced but with Japan struggling for goals, now is the best time to unleash the young Serie A star.
When Elia came on for the Dutch, I thought it would be a repeat of the Denmark game, and though Ibrahim Affelay could have added two more goals, Japan would be disappointed not to have scored when Okazaki shot over the bar. I am inclined to believe that Morimoto would have buried that opportunity if he was on the pitch.
It was great to see Nakamura on as a substitute. Though he didn't do much, he is a still a wonderfully technical footballer and he adds so much variety to the game. Yasuhito Endo had been labeled by some quarters as a luxury player but Okada have started him twice already and Endo has played very well, completing 72% of his passes.
It was a tall order to expect Japan to beat the Netherlands, now the Blue Samurais can start to prepare for the crucial final match against Denmark.
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