Robbie Servais, 34 (Dutch)
Soccer coach at Vissel Kobe (supports Holland)
I am very happy to see (Yoshito) Okubo (of Vissel) selected, since he had been injured recently. As a Dutch coach, I can say we are very aware of (Marcus) Tulio (Tanaka)’s strength on set plays and will be wary of him. Holland beat Japan 3-0 last year, but they showed excellent skill and speed on the ball and we will not underestimate them!
Koake Kumai, 17 (Japanese)
High school soccer player (supports Manchester Utd.)
I am really looking forward to seeing the 23 players representing Japan at the World Cup. I’ll especially be looking out for goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki. My father is the surgeon who operated on him recently, and I hope he has recovered from his injury well enough to make a lot of important saves.
Mark Smith, 47 (British)
Translator/editor (supports Nagoya Grampus, Liverpool, England, Japan)
Get the mint sauce ready, this bunch will soon be roast lamb. Tulio and Narazaki (of Grampus) are among the few that fully deserve their selection. However, Oka-chan’s best hope of avoiding another embarrassing World Cup exit lies in the feet of former Grampus midfield maestro Keisuke Honda.
Cesare Polenghi, 42 (Italian)
Historian (supports Kyoto Sanga FC)
I am disappointed by the forwards picked by Okada. With so many skilled youngsters, such as (Shinji) Kagawa, (Takashi) Usami and (Kentaro) Shigematsu, he opted for three players (Kishi Yano, Keiji Tamada and Okubo) who have underperformed in the last two J. League seasons. Anyway, good luck Japan!
Akira Fuse, 11 (Japanese)
Student, soccer player (supports Chelsea)
I had hoped that Okada would call on (Ryoichi) Maeda (of Jubilo Iwata) and Kagawa (of Cerezo Osaka). However, I am happy that Japan can count on the experience of Europe-based players, especially (Takayuki) Morimoto (of Catania, Italy). What a dream if Japan could make it to the semifinals!
John Potter, 61 (British)
University professor, writer (Norwich City, FC Ryukyu fan)
Fairly predictable squad. Not sure about (Junichi) Inamoto — desperation? Midfield needs someone who can turn a game. Maybe Honda will rise to the occasion. Defense looks reasonably solid, and I’m always happy when Tulio is around as he can attack as well. Whoever’s chosen, Japan is unlikely to get past the group stage.