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Messi hat trick punches Argentina's World Cup ticket

When it really mattered and when the pressure was most intense, Lionel Messi delivered for Argentina. On the brink of being eliminated from World Cup qualifying for the first time in almost five decades, Messi scored all three goals in Argentina's comeback 3-1 victory Tuesday at Ecuador — overcoming the thin ...

/ Sep 24, 2017

Japan set to play Brazil, Belgium in friendlies

Japan is expected to continue its preparations for next year's World Cup finals with friendlies in Europe against Brazil and Belgium in November, a source said Sunday. Brazil and Belgium have also both qualified for Russia 2018, and the Japanese are in negotiations for the ...

Japan eager to start World Cup preparations

/ Sep 7, 2017

Japan eager to start World Cup preparations

Japan feels sorry it could not come through for Australia against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, but the Socceroos' minimal win over Thailand did not help matters, firing up the Saudis who saw an opportunity they did not let go of to qualify for their ...

Japan to face New Zealand in October friendly

/ Sep 6, 2017

Japan to face New Zealand in October friendly

Japan will play New Zealand in one of two October friendlies as the Blue Samurai build toward next year's World Cup finals in Russia, the Japan Football Association said Wednesday. Vahid Halilhodzic's men will play New Zealand in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, on Oct. 6, before ...

Germany, England close in on berths

/ Sep 5, 2017

Germany, England close in on berths

Germany roared back to its best in a 6-0 demolition of Norway, while England also closed in on World Cup qualification, albeit in contrasting fashion in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Slovakia on Monday. An early Marcus Rashford blunder put England on the back foot, ...

Ideguchi vows to keep improving

/ Sep 4, 2017

Ideguchi vows to keep improving

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Man of the moment Yosuke Ideguchi is refusing to get carried away by his heroics against Australia, but hopes to get another chance to shine by retaining his place in the starting lineup for Japan's final World Cup qualifier away to Saudi Arabia on ...

Japan defender Nagatomo set to become father

/ Sep 3, 2017

Japan defender Nagatomo set to become father

Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo was one of the stars of Thursday's 2-0 win over Australia that sealed automatic qualification for next year's World Cup finals. And there was cause for further celebration on Saturday as the Italy-based 30-year-old revealed he is set to become a ...

Okazaki cautions Japan against complacency

/ Sep 3, 2017

Okazaki cautions Japan against complacency

Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki on Saturday warned Japan not to take its foot off the pedal when it faces Saudi Arabia away in its final qualifier for the 2018 World Cup finals. With Vahid Halilhodzic's men having already secured qualification for Russia after their ...