Tuesday, 21 February 2017


Japan's National Team: 2014-15

Javier Agguire was appointed as Japan's national team coach in July 2014, just days after the Samurai Blue had been drubbed out of the Brazil World Cup with two losses and a draw, and Alberto Zaccheroni was forced to fall on his sword. The reaction to Japan's failure was so emotional and so negative that Zaccheroni was not even given a chance to come home. He had to announce his resignation before getting on the plane back to Japan.  Unfortunately, despite the disappointment at Zaccheroni's results, there were still many people in the JFA who seemed unable to learn the lessons of this failure, and unfortunately for Agguire, he would pay the price for errors that were not of his making.

Though the former Mexico NT boss presided over a few unconvincing results in late 2014, against Uruguay, Venezuela, Brazil and Jamaica, Agguire had come to Japan with a determination to rebuild the team entirely, using young and promising talent. The early results might not have been impressive, but the content of play suggested that he might be on the right track. However, prior to Japan's departure for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia, the JFA seems to have intervened and convinced Agguire to name a squad based mainly on the players who took part in the 2014 World Cup, the previous summer. Somehow, they had ignored the lesson from Brazil'14 -- that Zaccheroni's favourites were past their prime.

Agguire's team coasted through the pool round of hte Asian Cup, but displayed some of the same weaknesses seen in Brazil, and when a hard-working UAE squad managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw, the Samurai Blue collapsed in the PK shootout and were sent home in disgrace. Agguire seemed to be less at fault for this failure than his superiors in the JFA. Unfortunately for him, though, he had been named in a match-fixing scandal in Spain, and was called to testify in what might have become a long and embarrassing trial. This gave the JFA the excuse they needed to make him step down at the end of February 2015.

The only positive outcome of the brief "Agguire Interlude" was that the JFA top tier management was also forced to step aside, and allow new blood to take over. It is a shame that no one will ever know how much Agguire might have achieved, if only he had been given full rein to select his own players and design his own strategies for the Asian Cup.

Japan Nat'l Team 2014-15

Date Venue Score Opponent Goals by . . .
Sep 5, 2014 Sapporo Dome 0 - 2 Uruguay --
Sep 9, 2014 Yokohama Intl Stadium 2 - 2 Venezuela Muto, Shibasaki
Oct 10, 2014 Niigata "Big Swan" 1 - 0 Jamaica Own Goal
Oct 14, 2014 Singapore 0 - 4 Brazil --
Nov 14, 2014 Toyota Stadium 6 - 0 Honduras Yoshida, Honda, Endo, Toyoda, Inui (2)
Nov 18, 2014 Osaka Nagai Stadium 2 - 1 Australia Konno, Okazaki
Jan 12, 2015 Newcastle, Australia 4 - 0 Palestine Endo, Okazaki, Honda, Yoshida
Jan 16, 2015 Brisbane, Australia 1 - 0 Iraq Honda
Jan 20, 2015 Melbourne, Australia 2 - 0 Jordan Honda, Kagawa
Jan 23, 2015 Sydney, Australia 1-1 (PK4-5) UAE Shibasaki