Contributed by: Ash Nugent
Below is a review from the Japanese national side's tour of Australia in August. WFN also discussed the series in Samurais back touring Australia and Samurai downed by Vietnamese at Windy Hill - finish Aus tour 1-3.
Match reports courtesy of Hideki Miyasaka.
The first match for the series was against the Howlong Spiders. Howlong are the champions from the Hume League (New South Wales). The Hume League is in the Southern Riverina and was established in 1933. Howlong, a former Chiltern & District FL member joined the league in 1953. Unfortunately for the Samurai, their first match saw a convincing defeat. There was however, one highlight from the match with Shumpei Nagasato (Osaka Dingoes) showing great courage in defence.
Japan 2.6 (18)
Howlong 13.13 (91)
Next up, the Samurais returned to Melbourne for a match against the Box Hill North Super Rules side. Tsuyoshi Kase (St. Bernards - VAFA) joined the squad and Michito Sakaki (Wodonga Raiders - O&M) temporarily took over as coach. The Samurais easily outran their Box Hill opponents but were let down by their goalkicking. In the end Box Hill won the match in a tight contest, although Japan had more scoring shots. Hiroyuki Toyama (Tokyo Leopards) performed admirably in the midfield.
Japan 4.13 (37)
Box Hill North SR 6.10 (46)
For the Samurais' third match, they returned to the Keysborough fields, the location of the previous match to face another (admittedly understrength) Box Hill North side. Katsuhiko Arata (Komazawa Magpies), the Samurais' captain, was missing from the squad having dislocated his shoulder in the previous match, but Michito Sakaki's presence ensured the squad was close to full strength. Japan's scholarship player, Genki Tanaka (Box Hill North - VAFA), kicked his first goal for the Samurais in the match. It proved decisive as Japan went on to win by two points.
Japan 5.6 (36)
Box Hill North FC 4.10 (34)
Japan's final match was against Melbourne Vietnam FC. The squad was made up of the best Australian-Vietnamese footballers, with most players coming from clubs in Melbourne's South East. Whilst Japan kicked the first goal of the match, Melbourne Vietnam controlled the game up until three quarter time. At that point the match evened out. Hiroaki Seino (Senshu Power) played his strongest match at full back. Tiredness from playing their fourth consecutive match and Melbourne Vietnam's greater experience were clearly evident. It was Japan's heaviest defeat.
Japan 7.4 (46)
Melbourne Vietnam FC 17.17 (149)
Overall the tour was a great success. Only ten of the 21 players in Japan's side competed in last year's International Cup. Most of the players had just begun University in Japan and had only been playing football since April. Amongst the squad, Hiroyuki Toyama (Tokyo Leopards), who played soccer in the US in high school, was named man of the series. Whilst he was a member of Japan's 2005 International Cup squad, his skills have improved vastly since that time and he is now one of the best ruck rovers in Japan. The ground size in Australia was a challenge to the Japanese players and is something they will need to work on for 2008.
World Footy News