The Samurai Blue has been working with a new coach since South Africa’s 2010 finals, as Japan selected former Milan and Juventus manager Alberto Zaccheroni to oversee their entrance into the quarter-finals in Brasil this year—a feat not yet achieved by a Japanese national team. To the delight of his new employers, Zaccheroni was quick to impress, after Japan beat Argentina—one of the top favorites for this year’s finals—in 2010, with a final score of 1-0. Even though the media and data analysts, including financial giant Goldman Sachs, have not heralded the arrival of a promising Japanese “dark horse” next month (the Guardian’s “Experts’ Network” writes that the team is “weak in defense” and lacks a “top-class goalscorer”), the Samurai squad left Costa Rica in its wake after a 3-1 victory in Florida, U.S. earlier this week. Bloomberg Sports’ “Power Ranking” of 20 may well be the advantage that Zaccheroni’s young team needs to prove itself in Brasil this year.
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