Japan to play Netherlands, Belgium in soccer


Japan will face the Netherlands and World Cup seeds Belgium next month in another friendly tour of Europe, a month after their shock defeats by Serbia and Belarus.

"The objective of our overseas tour is to play top-level teams away," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said in a statement released by the Japan Football Association.

"We can accurately assess where we stand in the world," said the Italian coach, who has faced a clamour for his exit after the Blue Samurai's struggles in recent months.

The Asian champions, who have qualified for their fifth straight World Cup finals, will face world number-five Belgium in Brussels on November 19, three days after playing the Netherlands in Genk.

In September, the association announced the date with the Dutch, ranked eighth in the world. Japan are placed 44th, Asia's best rank.

"I think Belgium are the fastest growing team in Europe," said Zaccheroni, who coached AC Milan and other Serie-A sides before taking over the Blue Samurai after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"They are at the world's top level in terms of the quality of play as well as physical strength," he added in the statement released Monday. "They have an array of young talent, and I personally think they are the best Belgium team of all time. In World Cup qualifying, they moved through by controlling their group."

Japan and Belgium have met three times, drawing twice. Japan beat the Belgians 4-0 in Tokyo in 2009 when the visitors were ranked 62nd in the world.

Japan lost to the Netherlands in their past two encounters, including the 1-0 defeat in their group match at South Africa 2010.

Since losing all three group matches at the Confederations Cup in Brazil last June, Japan have four wins from 11 games.

They lost 2-0 to Serbia and 1-0 to Belarus earlier this month following friendly wins at home over lower-ranked Guatemala and under-strength Ghana last month.

In August, they bowed 4-2 at home to Uruguay led by Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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WIth Louis van Gaal as coach of the Netherlands now, I am afraid Japan will lose this big time, I hope not but the Dutch team is pretty strong at the moment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good on Japan for wanting to play some strong teams but will the Dutch and Belgians field their strongest players or use it like the All Blacks to get some younger players some international experience. I would think the later. Good luck Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

they will be playing in Europe, so they will probably field strong sides. They usually field strong sides and then sub in players at half time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Best of luck to the Samurai Blue, but I wish the media would stop blaming it all on the coach if there are losses. Even Nakada (was that his name), when he lead them quite well in the last WC, said the result would have been the same if he were not there, so it's the players that deserve the praise, or the scorn.

Anyway, as I said, best of luck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a lot of respect for National teams from Asia . Some of the individual players are very good (Just look at how many are playing in the EU). The biggest problem is the lack of back-up in their own local leagues, just like the American League (MLS) and leagues in other countries and even in the EU and South and Central America. Add the Middle East and Russia etc. no matter how much TV promotes them they are nothing but "feeders'" for the big clubs in England , Spain , Portugal, Germany, Italy and France. This is just my own look at things. The Argentinian, Brazilian, Chileans and the Peruvians and even the Dutch are just a "Academy" for the so called "Top Flights" and that is really sad. I wish Patriotism would be a bigger factor every day rather than a few weeks for the World cup and not the the $$$. Thanks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was anyone all that "shocked" at the losses to Serbia and Belarus? Upsets yes, shocking no. Japan isn't at the level where bad games vs. bad teams are all that shocking.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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