Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 10: Japan 1, Cameroon 0

A lot of talk before the tournament started was about how the home continent advantage would result in some African side doing better than expected. This could still happen--South Africa got a tie against a strong Mexican side in its opener--but with Japan's result against Cameroon we now have two Asian nations with victories under their belts.

Certainly the Asian teams took a step forward in their last World Cup, but I guess the sentiment was that this was because of it being hosted in Japan and Korea. How many times could the announcers say that Japan has never won a World Cup game away from its home soil?

One thing that both Japan and South Korea appear to have in common is pace. Both in terms of fitness and effort, they really seem to have fast teams. It's a bit of a cliche in America that the best athletes go into football and basketball. It's interesting, then, to see a non-traditional power try to use fitness and speed to make up for having less technical ability.

Cameroon played a somewhat tentative game and once Japan had its goal it tended to fall back in the second half--a decision that almost cost them when Cameroon hit the crossbar in the 87th minute. More shaky goal keeping on both sides...turning into an ongoing story for this World Cup. Is it really just the ball? Altitude? Or are Americans spoiled, having high standards with being used to having one of the best keepers in the world?

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