URAWA, Saitama Pref. — Players and officials gave the thumbs up to the pitch at Saitama’s World Cup stadium on Tuesday after a reserve team match between the Urawa Reds and Kashiwa Reysol.
The match was played at Saitama Stadium 2002 at the request of Japan’s World Cup Organizing Committee (JAWOC) to test the pitch following its inauspicious debut on Nov. 7 when Japan played Italy.
On that occasion, the pitch cut up badly, leading to fears that it would endanger the safety of the players or, even worse, be unplayable for the World Cup.
The stadium will host four World Cup matches, including Japan vs. Belgium, England vs. Sweden and a semifinal match.
Tadao Murata, JAWOC’s senior director of tournament operations, said that while the pitch wasn’t perfect, it was getting better all the time.
“It’s far better than before, so I think there will be no problem,” Murata stated. “I don’t see that there’ll be any need to change the surface.”
Kashiwa Reysol manager Steve Perryman also thought the pitch had improved a lot.
“It looked good and was pretty solid under foot,” the former Tottenham star commented. “Last year you could feel the ground giving under you and a lot of divots came up. Today, I didn’t see a divot all game.”
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