World Cup: Japan stay focused on Senegal despite rising expectations

Despite Japan's surprise 2-1 win over Colombia fueling predictions of a knockout-stage berth, members of the Samurai Blue squad were keeping a lid on expectations Thursday ahead of their upcoming match against Senegal. Prior to the victory Tuesday over a 10-man La Tricolor side in Saransk, Japan were widely tipped to finish last in Group H, but bookmakers now have the resurgent four-time Asian champions as second favorites to top the group behind the Senegal, who beat Poland 2-1 in their opening clash. The win at Mordovia Arena may have lifted the mood within the camp, but the players were not letting it affect their approach to Sunday's showdown with the joint group leaders in Ekaterinburg, midfielder Genki Haraguchi said. "(Beating Colombia) hasn't changed how we see things. We can only look to the next game. (Reaching the knockout stage) isn't something we can think about," said the 27-year-old, who earlier this month joined Bundesliga side Hannover on a three-year deal. With the squad having had less than two months to prepare for the tournament under new coach Akira Nishino, defense had been the priority, but the Colombia game showed the team's attacking play was beginning to take shape, Haraguchi said. "Of course, we had to start by building the base, which is defense. But with that base in place, our ability to attack and respond to different situations is increasing," he said. (Haraguchi and Johan Mojica vie for the ball during Japan's 2-1 win over Colombia) The former Hertha Berlin and Fortuna Dusseldorf player said the team had received detailed feedback of their performance on Tuesday, including distances run and passes completed, in order to help identify areas for improvement. "It is an important part of the process, since it is directly related to the result," he said. "But overall, the most important analysis is that the 11 of us got three points." Members of the Japan squad who saw significant playing time against Colombia continued to undertake a lighter training workload Thursday at the headquarters of Russian first-division side Rubin Kazan. Keisuke Honda, who helped seal the victory as a 69th-minute substitute, trained separately after suffering a bruised right thigh during the match and is being monitored, a team spokesman said. The Pachuca playmaker, however, did not outwardly show any ill effects as he jogged around the Rubin Kazan practice pitch alongside a member of the team training staff. (Honda works out with a trainer at Thursday's session)

31 minutes ago | KYODO NEWS

Olympics: 2020 organizers set 300,000 yen cap for ticket prices: source

The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games plans to cap ticket prices at 300,000 yen ($2,720) while setting a minimum ticket price of 2,000 yen ($18), sources familiar with the matter said late Monday evening. According to the sources, the highest-priced tickets are for the Olympic Games opening ceremony. The most expensive ticket for a sporting event is expected to be 130,000 yen ($1,180) for athletics. The prices will be officially released after approval by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board in July. According to the initial plan, the cap was expected to be 288,000 yen with a minimum price of 2,600 yen, in line with prices at the 2012 London Olympics. But after several participants at a ticket sales strategy meeting last month suggested that the price range be broadened in order to accommodate different types of guests, organizers decided to set a higher price cap and lower minimum price. Other than general admission tickets, organizers are planning group discounts for schools and municipalities as well as VIP tickets with perks including food and beverage services. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale in the spring of 2019.

Jun 12, 2018 | KYODO NEWS