Match 5 Japan vs Great Britain
The bigger British Bulldogs jumped out to a 4 goal lead by quarter time on the small Murphy reserve. From there it was goal for goal as the Japanese fought hard to get back into the game. Their first goal was from a Shiba handball to Michito for a classy goal. Then Shiba tackled well for another. Michito later burst through on his left for another beauty. At the end though a 5 goal deficit was a disappointment. The teamwork was excellent, as was the tackling. However there was a lack of height and strength compared to the opponents. This needs to be worked on for next time. Best players today were Kase, Yusukue, Michito, Shiba and the young full back. Gutsy effort by Waka whose leg was like that of a mummy. There is one final match on Saturday at Optus.
Match 4 Japan vs Ireland
A big ask for the Japanese as they took on reigning International Cup champion Ireland at Wangaratta (about 200km from Melbourne). The Japanese were galant, again giving away 20-30cm per player. Within touch at 3/4 time, it could have been a HUGE upset but the Irish steadied in the final quarter to win by 5 goals.
Match 3 Japan vs NZ
Japan took on one of the tournament favourites in NZ at the old Port Melbourne VFA ground. They were quick out of the blocks with the first goal but thereafter were pretty well beaten up by the much larger New Zealanders. The boys did keep at it all day to their credit harassing and spoiling players 20-40cm taller. However, in the end the kiwis prevailed 11.12.78 to 1.0.6.
Match 2 Japan vs Sth Africa
Following its 61-point victory over Spain, Japan moved on to its game against Sth Africa. Goannas would be interested to know that the Sth. African team is coached by Steve Harrison (ex-Goanna- known here in Japan as “Happy Steve”). Steve would be amazed at the great progress of footy in Japan since he left. We hope he can bring his Sth African Buffaloes to the Narita Cup someday. For more about the Samurais loss to Sth Africa
Match 1: Japan vs Spain
Japan defeated Spain by 61 points at TEAC oval yesterday. Michito Sakagi (Best and Fairest in Japan AFL for 2003 and 2004 seasons) seemed the defining force according to the Channel 7 news TV coverage on Wednesday night. Crazy Horse (Jun Oikawa) was on hand for a post match interview in English.In addition, Channel 7 also covered the Japan win on its Sunrise morning news show. Great effort guys – now on to South Africa on Friday at 1.30pm at the A.T. Aaeneson Reserve (old Port Melbourne VFA ground).Here is how The Age reported it.
The Age 4 August 2005
The team from Spain, who had got off the plane on Monday, was a disappointment, copping a 61-point flogging at the hands of Japan. Indeed, Japan could be the dark horse of the competition, with a number of livewire players showing that despite their relatively slender bodies they could still take the bumps, deliver pinpoint passes and kick a good score.
Match 2 Japan vs Sth Africa The Buffaloes’ dream of winning their first match was realised when the siren sounded leaving them two points ahead of the Japanese side who had battled manfully to the very end. Scenes of jubilation followed as the players sung and danced to celebrate their finest moment so far. As predicted the game was played at a fast pace, with both sides endowed with a fleet of swift running small players. The Japanese appeared to be the steadier side in the first half, using their short chipping game to control the play. Balancing the ledger for the Africans was ruckman Bryan Mitchell whose extraordinary leap ensured he got his hand on the ball first. Unfortunately he rolled his ankle in the second quarter and his availability in the coming rounds could be crucial to South Africa’s chances. At half time South African coach Steve Harrison asked his running players to get to the fall of the ball “front and centre” of the marking contest. He emplored them to get excited about their chance to win their first ever match, and the players fired up for the second half. Japan matched their passion and there was never more than a goal between the two nations, both hoping to move up the ladder of international footy after modest 2002 campaigns. Slowly the height advantage enjoyed by South Africa, particularly amongst the players of Afrikaans origin, began to give the Buffaloes an edge. That included an absolute hanger that had the crowd buzzing, but unfortunately was not converted. For all the industrious work of the Samurai midfielders, the South Africans began to take telling marks in front of goal. In a thrilling final quarter that really gave the spectators a taste of what international footy can produce, the scores were levelled when South Africa’s Willem Jonker from Potchefstroom University slotted a goal from 40 metres. Hiroyuki Tohyama received a controversial free 25m out and cooly kicked straight to square the match again. In a nailbiting finish Itsoseng’s Steven Malinga ran onto the loose ball at 50m and dribbled a shot goalwards. Despite Japan’s desperate chase it trickled over for a one point lead. After a short stalement another point was scored and the siren sounded – South Africa winning their first ever match, by just two points. The Buffaloes players were ecstatic with their victory and soon broke into song and were dancing around the field. In a tremendous gesture, Japan coach Troy Beard, who has put his heart and soul into growing the game there, gave a speech to the South Africans, congratulating them on the win. AFL South Africa Chairman Brian Dixon reciprocated with praise for Troy, and for this reporter the emotion of the moment was the highlight of the tournament thus far. World Footy News hopes to have video footage of the African’s celebrations in a few weeks time (once this busy Cup period settles down).