Japan unveils new, lighter uniforms


Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo is hoping struggling Japan can make a winning start in its new ultra-light home kit unveiled Monday ahead of the Asian champions’ trip to Europe for World Cup warmups against the Netherlands and Belgium.

In the traditional all-blue colors but this time with flashy neon red trim on the sleeves and shorts, the strip, using cutting-edge technology, is the lightest in the history of sports apparel maker Adidas.

It also features a neon red brushed stripe that runs across the back and shoulders, designed to symbolize an “enjin” circle of unity when the players huddle together in matches before kickoff.

The kit will be worn for the first time in Saturday’s friendly in Belgium against the Netherlands. The Blue Samurai face Belgium on Nov. 19.

“When you pull on the new shirt, it really feels like the World Cup is getting closer. It is really light and comfortable and a bright design,” Endo said at a news conference at a hotel near Narita airport.

“We head off on this trip hoping to make a great start in this uniform.”

Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni, who is feeling the heat after a pair of dreadful performances in recent defeats away to Serbia and Belarus, said, “I like it. The stripe across the back of the shirt expresses unity. It gets me excited when I imagine the players huddling together in a circle before the match.”