Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Okada leaves Ono at home

Despite having had an impressive start to life back in the J.League, Shinji Ono will not be making a fourth appearance at the World Cup finals after being left out of Japan's 30-man preliminary squad for South Africa.

Ono's Shimizu S-Pulse lead the league - thanks in part to Ono's fine form - but that has not been enough to encourage Okada to take a belated look at the former Feyenoord and Urawa Reds midfielder.

As a result, there are few surprises in Okada's line-up and it will be no shock, therefore, if the Japanese exit the competition at the end of the group stage.

Japan in recent months have lacked thrust in midfield, with no pace in place when the team has been making the transition from defence to attack. As a result, Japan rely too much on set pieces and the fading creative powers of the likes of Shunsuke Nakamura.

The team's only real hope lies in Keisuke Honda continuing the form he has shown for CSKA Moscow in recent months - but even that can only be of any consequence if Okada puts his trust in the former Nagoya Grampus midfielder. So far, he hasn't done that although he has made some encouraging noises recently to suggest he has had a change of heart.

Another player who needs to step up is Takayuki Morimoto, the youngest member of Japan's squad. He now has a chance to put his experience gained at Catania in Serie A to good use for the national cause.

Should Okada, however, choose to stick with the kind of line-up that saw Japan qualify for the finals - featuring the anaemic pairing of Yoshito Okubo and Keiji Tamada in attack - then the aim of a place in the semifinals will be laughably lofty.

And even if everything clicks into place for the Blue Samurai, that target of a berth in the last four is little more than wishful thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Michael

    Enjoying your blog. Would it be possible to contact you regarding a query about football in Hong Kong.