The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Still waiting for the first “are Chelsea out of the Premier League title race?” headline to roll in after the draw at Stamford Bridge. First person to send it my way wins a prize.
In the meantime, things are getting wicked between Japan and Australia in advance of their World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. Pim Verbeek, the coach of Australia, used to manage in the J-League, and still has friends in Japan. This fact has led Japan coach Takeshi Okada to envision an espionage scenario in which Verbeekian agents from Kyoto Purple Sagna infiltrate the Japan team’s training complex in Yokohama and report back on their tactics to the Australia camp. To prevent this largely theoretical act of treason from taking place, Okada has erected a security perimeter around the team’s practice facility through which no one is allowed without being cleared by him personally.
“Nobody will be allowed in unless I give them permission,” Okada told the Japanese media. “Pim has friends in Japan and someone might get in who we don’t want to be there.”
Australia, not to be outdone, have responded by accusing the Japan team of cowardice and throwing open their own practices to all and sundry. From Reuters:
“It doesn’t show a lot of confidence,” the Dutchman told reporters on Saturday. “You have been training together for five weeks and still need closed-door sessions.
“We don’t have closed-door sessions,” he said. “You are welcome to come the whole week.”
So let’s see. Japan have responded to an imaginary threat with a highly systematic, slightly paranoid solution, while Australia have countered their accusations with jeering and manly bravado. Who said the Nutcracker was racist!
by Brian Phillips · February 7, 2009