• Kyodo

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Japan’s players began preparing for Wednesday’s friendly with South Korea in a somber mood Monday following the tragic and untimely death last week of former national team defender Naoki Matsuda.

Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad gathered around the center circle under blazing sunshine and blue skies at Atsubetsu stadium before training to observe a moment’s silence for 2002 World Cup defender Matsuda, who passed away aged 34 following a heart attack.

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