On Friday night Japan’s Samurais thumped Honduras 6-0, in what was a welcome goal bonanza for the reigning Asian Cup champions. But was it a sign that the once mighty emperors of Asia had bounced back to their best? Surely a six goal drubbing in international football is a sign that something is drastically wrong with your opponent. Nevertheless, confirmation will soon come in Japan’s next match, when they take on 2015 Asian Cup hosts Australia.
Australian fans know only too well the hidden truths that lie behind a 6-0 defeat. The Socceroos were victims of two in succession in 2013, when Brazil and then France thrashed an uninspiring and lazy Aussie outfit. Manager of the time Holger Osieck was under intense media scrutiny after qualifying the team for the World Cup, but not blooding enough youth players.
Like Australia in 2013, Honduras are experiencing a rough patch. After a disastrous World Cup conceding eight goals and scoring one, the NAFFH signed Hernan Medford to manage the national team. Since then, Honduras have secured two wins from seven matches. Knocking off the might of Belize and Nicaragua.
A humble manager, Javier Aguirre wasn’t getting carried away after Japan’s slaughter of Honduras. With an eye on the fixture list he said, “I want to take a good look at the 23 players I will take to the Asian Cup and want to beat Australia.” At one stage in the Mexican’s short reign it appeared the international career of Gamba Osaka’s legendary midfielder Yasuhito Endo may have been over. But ‘Yatto’ was recalled on Friday night (along with Hasebe, Konno & Uchida), and unsurprisingly it coincided with a return to form for the Samurais.
Interestingly, Australia’s first eleven is still very unsettled. In terms of squad the Socceroos have been hit with a wave of injuries since Ange Postecoglou’s installment as manager, preventing the team from developing the cohesion that is required for his preferred style. In a tell tale sign of doubt during a Monday night press conference, Postecoglou said, “Regardless of what we do tomorrow night it’s all about the first game of the (Asian Cup) tournament.”
In stark contrast, Aguirre said ahead of the Honduras and Australia friendlies, “These two games are not about what I can try out, they’re about looking ahead to the Asian Cup and winning.”
So Osaka, the foodies capital is host to the Socceroos on Tuesday night. But it’s more than likely that Japan, with their reloaded (Brazil 2014) squad, will be making a meal out of the Aussies.