In a unique, intriguing encounter, Japan’s senior side faced the nation’s under-24 Olympic hopefuls Thursday in an empty Sapporo Dome. So did age and experience or youthful energy triumph? Well, it wasn’t much of a contest in the end.
The same could be said of the U-24 side’s follow-up match on Saturday, a friendly against their Ghana counterparts that was set up as preparation for Japan’s Olympic opener against South Africa. Six goals were scored, and guess who kept a clean sheet.
In J. League news, Yokohama F. Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou last week declined to comment on reports linking him to the vacant position at Celtic, saying he remains focused on his current role, Dan Orlowitz reports, even as U.K. media maintain a move to the Scottish side is imminent.
Staying in Britain, World Cup-winning Japan forward Mana Iwabuchi has signed with the Arsenal Women after spending half a season playing in the Women’s Super League with Aston Villa. Her Nadeshiko Japan teammate Saki Kumagai, meanwhile, is heading to Bayern Munich after bidding farewell to the mighty Olympique Lyonnais.
And finally, globe-trotting Keisuke Honda is making the most of his surprise move to Central Asia, picking up some silverware with his club Neftchi Baku after a 1-0 win on the final day of the Azerbaijan Premier League season last month.