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International Friendly Preview: Japan-Sweden
Japan - Sweden | News Archive

05/24/2002. BACKGROUND

This friendly represents the last chance that the coaches of Japan and Sweden have to tinker with team tactics and selection.

Japan coach Philippe Troussier has come under fire for a series of shock exclusions from his final 23. He has, however, defended his decisions, saying: "This team is perfectly in balance, technically, tactically, physically and mentally." The doubts, though, still persist.

Against Norway, in the 3-0 defeat, Japan held out until the 72nd minute before a landslide in the closing stages. Troussier claimed his surprise selections had nothing to do with the collapse but one can't help but wonder.

The Frenchman has admitted that he isn't taking the friendly at all seriously and sees it more as a chance to give all 23 players a run out.

If any proof were needed as to just how wound up Sweden are for this World Cup, it was seen at first hand on Thursday morning when Olof Mellberg and Fredrik Ljungberg were involved in a training ground bust-up. The Arsenal midfielder reacted angrily to a very late challenge from the Aston Villa man and the pair proceeded to scrap right in the middle of the training session.

"You can't tolerate tackles like that, you have to respond," said Ljungberg. Quite what this will do to team spirit remains to be seen, although the likelihood is that it'll blow over as most of these things do. It better do. It's no secret that Sweden rely on their team-spirit and organisation more than most other sides in the competition.

SQUADS

Japan- Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Portsmouth), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus Eight), Hitoshi Sogahata (Kashima Antlers), Yutaka Akita (Kashima), Toshihiro Hattori (Jubilo Iwata), Ryuzo Morioka (Shimizu), Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka), Naoki Matsuda (Yokohama Marinos), Koji Nakata (Kashima), Hiroaki Morishima (Cerezo Osaka), Takashi Fukunishi (Jubilo Iwata), Hidetoshi Nakata (Parma), Alessandro Santos (Shimizu S-Pulse), Kazuyuki Toda (Shimizu), Tomokazu Myojin (Kashiwa Reysol), Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima), Junichi Inamoto (Arsenal), Shinji Ono (Feyenoord), Daisuke Ichikawa (Shimizu), Masashi Nakayama (Jubilo Iwata), Takayuki Suzuki (Kashima), Akinori Nishizawa (Cerezo Osaka), Atsushi Yanagisawa (Kashima).

Sweden- HEdman (Coventry City), Kihlsted (FC Copenhagen), Isaksson (Djurgarden), Mellberg (Aston Villa), Mjallby (Celtic), Patrik Andersson (Barcelona), Michael Svensson (Troyes), Jacobsson (Hansa Rostock), Antonelius (FC Copenhagen), Edman (Heerenveen), Lucic (AIK), Alexandersson (Everton), Linderoth (Everton), Ljungberg (Arsenal), Magnus Svensson (Brondby), Jonson (Brondby), Daniel Andersson (Venezia), Pontus Farnerud (Monaco), Anders Svensson (Southampton), Larsson (Celtic), Allback (Heerenveen), Ibrahimovic (Ajax), Andreas Andersson (AIK)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan)- the national team's only world class player? Surely. Feyenoord's Shinji Ono is improving all the time but Troussier will be looking to the Parma man for inspiration. Unlike many of the potential stars of the competition Nakata won't be overly fatigued as he has featured only sparingly for the Gialloblu. Japan may reap the rewards of an injury hit season.

Fredrik Ljungberg (Sweden)- the Arsenal midfielder is now talked about in the same breath as Magnus Hedman, Patrik Andersson and Henrik Larsson in terms of overall contribution. His superbly timed runs were a constant feature of his excellent second-half to the season with Arsenal, and the Sweden coaches must ensure they are used to good effect in Japan and South Korea.

SOCCERAGE PREDICTION

The sheer volume of changes that the coaches will make ensures that it's almost impossible to predict a winner so a draw looks the most likely outcome.

Japan Win 25%
Draw 40%
Sweden Win 35%

soccerage
 

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Anyone here watching the game???

How are the two teams playing???

Which players are playing well???

cheers
 

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International Friendly Report: Japan End All Square With Sweden
Japan - Sweden | News Archive

05/25/2002. A second-half own-goal handed Japan a 1-1 draw with Sweden in the two nations' final warm-up match before the World Cup.

Japan came close in the 18th minute when Hidetoshi Nakata's long-range shot was dealt with by Magnus Hedman.

The Swedes went ahead two minutes later when Heerenveen's Aston Villa-bound forward Marcus Allback prodded home from a few yards out after being set up by Henrik Larsson.

Overall, it was a disappointing first-half, with Japan rarely able to impose themselves on the game.

They did, however, improve in the second period and after Takayuki Suzuki had missed a 53rd minute header, they levelled 10 minutes later when Alex swung in a cross which Hedman failed to deal with and the ball went in off the shins of Johan Mjallby.

Japan almost won it late on but Suzuki dragged his effort wide when the ball fell to his feet.

soccerage
 
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