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July 7, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 07/07/2010

As the World Cup winds down to its final few matches, I thought I’d put down some of my final thoughts on the Japan National team. I’ve been able to digest the team’s performance at the World Cup for the past week or so. The tremendous highs from the victories over Cameroon and Denmark have subsided, but the bitter disappointment from the penalty shoot-out loss to Paraguay has gone too. With a level-headed mind, I can truly say that the World Cup was a success for Japan and that the future looks very bright for this team. However, that’s not to say that success will now come easily for the team. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done over the next few weeks and in the next four years if the team is to match or surpass this performance.

July 4, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 07/04/2010

It’s been a few days since our painful loss to Paraguay, but now I’ve realized there are a lot more heart-breaking ways to leave the World Cup. We thought Komano’s PK miss ripped our hearts out, but what the Ghanaians must feel after Gyan’s miss, or how Paraguay must feel after Cardozo’s, is hard to imagine. Although, I don’t have too much sympathy for the Paraguayans ;-). The fact of the matter is every team gets their hearts broken, except one. But if you digest the initial heartache that came from our loss to Paraguay and see what Japan accomplished over the past few weeks, you can see how beautiful of a World Cup it has been for Japan. There’s no real theme in today’s post but I just wanted to quickly go over a couple hot topics that have come out in the past few days - Shunsuke Nakamura's retirement and transfer news.

June 29, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/29/2010

And all of a sudden, Japan’s exciting, eye-opening, inspirational journey comes to an end. Japan and Paraguay fought to a 0-0 draw, but Yuichi Komano hit the cross bar on his penalty try and Paraguay are through to the quarterfinals. Tears flowed freely after the game as players, coaches, and fans realized that these magical few weeks of tremendous ups and downs were finally over with one heartbreaking loss. But as we digest this sad day, I think we should hold our heads up high and realize what an amazing run Japan had in South Africa 2010, and what potential we have for 2014 and beyond.

Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/29/2010

Another day, another day to make history. Japan take on Paraguay as both teams will fight to make the quarterfinals for the first time in their histories. As always, I'll use the live blog to note major occurences in the game then write-up a match report later. Gambarre Nippon!

June 28, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/28/2010

Now that we’ve thoroughly enjoyed and celebrated getting through to the knock-out stages, it’s time to buckle down and start thinking about and preparing for Japan’s game against Paraguay. Paraguay won Group F and is a strong South American side that wants to continue the continent’s tremendous success so far. Both teams have never made it past the round of 16, so the winner will have the pleasure of rewriting their nation’s soccer history. Let’s be clear. Japan is excited to be here. But we’re not JUST happy to be here. We don’t see this game as a bonus, nor do we see it as our final destination. There’s a lot more that this team wants to achieve.

June 25, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/25/2010

I still can’t get over it. What a tremendous win for Japan. For the first time in our history we qualify for the knock-out stages on foreign soil, and we do it in style with two wins in a difficult group. Today’s victory against Denmark was extra special in that Japan did what everyone said they could not do - score. With three beautiful goals, Japan ride a tremendous wave of momentum into their round of 16 match vs. Paraguay next Tuesday.

June 24, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/24/2010

With an incredible 3-1 victory of Denmark, Japan has made it to the knock-out stages of the World Cup for the first time on foreign soil! Spectacular free kicks by Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo put Japan ahead 2-0 in the first half, and while a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Denmark late in the 2nd half, Japan were able to pull away with a goal by Okazaki in the 87th minute. Japan, who looked like the weakest of the 32 teams coming into the World Cup, has now shown the world what the Blue Samurai are truly capable of. I hope everyone is celebrating this historic result! (In-Depth Match Report to come!).

June 22, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/22/2010

“Put your lives on the line!” Coach Okada enthusiastically told his players in the latest team meeting. For a team like Japan, which has such a short, unimpressive World Cup history and hasn’t yet reached the level of the top world teams, a chance to make it into the knock-out stages of the World Cup with just a tie is rare. In fact Okada mentioned that such an opportunity “doesn’t come often in one’s lifetime.” With so much on the line, the Blue Samurai will embark on one of the most important matches in the history of Japanese football and look to either tie or beat Denmark and make it to the next round.

June 19, 2010
Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/19/2010

Japan lost 0-1 to Holland in a closely fought battle for first place in Group E as Sneijder ripped a shot that deflected off Japan GK Kawashima. I mentioned earlier that Japan needed to score their one chance and get some luck to beat Holland. To get the tie, they would need one of those two criteria to happen. Unfortunately, Japan got neither and the result was a 1-0 loss.

Posted by Kentaro Matsuura on 06/19/2010

Here's the 2nd edition of the live blog. Kick off in a few minutes! Keep refreshing the page as I will try to type as the game goes on. Even if you can't follow the blog live, this should act as a good initial recap of the game.

About

Kentaro Matsuura was born in Japan and following a move to the USA resorted to following the national team by renting video tapes in Chinatown. Most recently, Kentaro played for and ran the football club at his graduate school, where he studied business. He will join a consulting firm upon graduation.

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