So thus far, no-one wants to be the favourite heading into this game, and both teams have turned it into a veritable love-fest, competing to see who can say the most ‘nice’ things about each other.
- Mark Schwarzer (Australian Keeper) on his counterpart, Japanese Keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi – “I think he is a very good goalkeeper. At the World Cup last year he proved for a large part of the game to be the difference with the saves he made. Obviously he is very highly thought of in Japan and Asia…”
- Mark Viduka on Japanese Coach, Ivica Osim – “I have always admired him as a coach, from when he coached the Yugoslavian national team for the World Cup in Italy (in 1990)…”
- Ivica Osim on Australia – “You look at the spectrum of the Asian Cup, and of all the teams we could have faced, they are the most difficult…”
- Yuji Nakazawa on Mark Viduka (who he’ll probably defend) – “He’s big, strong and very mobile and a very difficult player.”
Still, when the opening whistle blows, the gloves will come off. Whoever wins this game will be my pick to take the whole tournament, and I pick Australia to win 3-1.
Some thoughts in the afternoon…
3:15pm (roughly 5 hours ’til kickoff) – This game will be played in Hanoi, Vietnam – rather than in Bangkok Thailand. The difference in the actual physical atmosphere will be quite sizable – far less humidity in Hanoi… which should make for a better game (and I think the Aussie team will cope better with it than they did in Thailand!).
6:40 – The telecast starts at 7 here, with the game kicking off at 7:20 (Japanese time – which is an hour behind Australia – for any Aussie’s watching – or GST +9). Starting to get excited…
7:00 – so the telecast is underway (at this point in time watching NHK – national provider)… we have a heap of suited Japanese guys telling us about the game… not really saying much about the game, just that the Australian team a pretty good, but Japan are in a position to beat ’em. Meh… typical non-committal Japanese stuff.
7:12 – teams about to head out… they announce the refs… Japanese team’s in the tunnel. And both teams take the field.
Japanese anthem… some of the lads sing along. Australian anthem – still, should be Waltzing Matilda. What’s with Mark Viduka’s hair? He looks like Astro Boy!
7:15 – teams warm up…
7:20 – and we’re underway! Australia start with first use of the ball… up and attacking at Japan’s goal. Definitely the more aggressive to start.
7:22 – offside? Huh? Light call that… Japan’s ball in defense. (from here I’ll switch to game-time)
4 min – Japan into attack, but ball easily garnered by the Australian keeper, Schwarzer.
5 min – Aus into attack, get the corner, but ball deflected out.
6 min – Japan press attack, but nothing serious… yet. Nakamura looks dangerous tho’. Read the rest of this entry »