Early qualifiers for next year Pt 4


The first team in the world to qualify is also among the candidates for an early exit, despite some overexcitable chatter from the manager and players.

They have much higher hopes for the Blue Samurai, according to comments allegedly made after the eye-catching 1-0 win in Uzbekistan which sealed qualification.

“We will surprise the world! Hip, Hip, Hurrah!” chanted the players.

Then manager Takeshi Okada, presumably drinking from the same pool of mindless optimism as his squad, chipped in: “We want to raise our level higher as we are aiming for the World Cup last four.”

So that’s higher than a group in which the other teams were Australia, Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan? A group in which they came second, by the way. And Okada’s crack wannabee semi-finalists could only manage draws with two of these after putting the mighty Oman to the sword, erm, 1 – 1.

On this evidence the Blue Samurai will need to raise the bar a bit higher to get out of the first group phase.

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