JAPAN and South Korea have been warming up for the World Cup by contesting a four-nation international tournament, the Dynasty Cup, in Yokohama and Tokyo this week.
China and are the other teams involved. The XI is, however, not a proper international selection but a representative team from the league - which has given some journeyman professionals from Britain an unexpected taste of football on the world stage.
The team made a big impact well beyond Asia in January when they beat England's subsequent conquerors, Chile, 3-1 in the Carlsberg Cup, another four-nation tournament, on "home" soil in . Among the players that overcame the Chileans were Martin Kuhl, a much-travelled English midfield enforcer, and two former Tottenham reserves: the goalkeeper Peter Guthrie and the Irish midfielder Tim O'Shea.
's Brazilian coach, Sebastiao Araujo, took some flak for picking an entire squad of foreigners for the Carlsberg Cup, so most of the party that went to the Dynasty Cup were nationals. The reduced number of expatriates included Gary McKeown, a former Dundee midfielder, and Dale Tempest, a striker who saw service with Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester but has been based in for several years.
Tempest, who scored for in a 5-1 defeat to Japan on Wednesday, has - like Michael Robinson, the former Liverpool striker, in Spain - made a name for himself in English-speaking Asia as a television commentator. Like his British team-mates, has given him a status and fame denied to him back home.
CROATIA'S top players suffered a humiliating defeat on Wednesday - losing 3-1 in a friendly match against a "reserve" team chosen by journalists unhappy with the squad of the coach, Miroslav Blazevic.
Blazevic, whose relations with the press have frequently been frosty, has been accused of fielding a team full of individuals with no game plan. Wednesday's game in Zagreb will have fuelled the antagonism, with the journalists' team, who had not played together before, looking more compact than their opponents, who bizarrely played the closing minutes with just 10 men.
The captain of the "first" team, Zvonimir Boban, scored in the first half but left the field midway though the second without being replaced by Blazevic. He stripped off his captain's armband following the "second" team's third goal.
"I am a professional and I approach my job professionally. When others behave differently, I'd rather distance myself from them than bear it," Boban said afterwards.Reuse content