Monday, June 14, 2010
Game 10: Japan vs Cameroon
Cameroon, it seems, did not show up to this match until the final fifteen minutes when they started to become desperate. Yet Japan would hold them, mounting a spectacular defense to halt the likes of Mbia and Eto'o.
The first half would prove to be really slow going, while both teams tried to get into a rhythm. Similar to the Algeria vs Slovenia game, both teams began very cautious, trying to find openings in the defenses. Cameroon, however, was starting to struggle. They were not able to connect their passes, as Japan would start to solidify the middle. Having rarely pressed throughout most of the match, Japan would get the deciding goal after Matsui sends in a beautiful cross to Honda on the back post, completely unmarked, and slots it into the net at the 39 minute mark.
With a goal in hand, Japan would sit on the lead, having literally no shots in the second half of the game. Cameroon would keep trying to press, but with a horrible 4-3-3 formation, the indomitable lions would resort to playing a long-ball game, belting the ball up the field and hoping a teammate would get onto it.
This long-ball game would result in quite a few shots; however, most would be off target, and those that were on target would be right at the goalkeeper Kawashima, who would make a couple good saves. Cameroon's best chance would come in the 86th minute, when Mbia would shoot a bullet, only to see it rattle off of the woodwork, poor guy.
To improve, Cameroon will probably need to revert to a 4-4-2 formation, with Eto'o up front and not stuck in the middle. Additionally, the team will need to practice their first touch, and gain some confidence when challenging for fifty-fifty balls, the lack of those two essential abilities is one reason Japan was able to create a strong defense. Unfortunately, after this game I feel it could be all over for the Indomitable Lions. With Netherlands and Denmark to come, both teams which I believe are vastly superior, Cameroon is going to have a horrendous time. My initial bracket is all messed up now.
For Japan, well, I bet they are extremely happy. The coach had some lofty ideals of making it to the quarter-finals, but the rest of the nation would have been happy with a win, and they got it! Anything else now will just be gravy, I believe. But expect Japan to be riding the high and fight hard against their next two opponents.