It started with two Ex Pompey players going against one another. It was the Quarter Final of the Asia Cup and I had personal interests in both sides.
When Australia lined up against Japan it was the two favourites in the competition going head to head. But from a Pompey perspective it was Striker John Aloisi (AUS) lining up against Goalkeeper Yoshi Kawaguchi (JAP).
Would either make a name for themselves in a game that the rest of the World either wasn’t interested in or simply didn’t care? For those who might be unaware it was a game to be remembered with massive impact from the former Pompey players.
Aloisi opened the scoring to put the Socceroos 1-0 up, but the lead was quickly squandered moments later as Japan levelled. When an Aussie was sent off with some 15 mins left Japan held the upper hand but could not put the resilient Aussies away. Missed chances cost them as 90 mins finished in a stalemate. Extra Time provided nothing more than Mark Schwarzer keeping the Blue Samurai at bay.
So we go down to the proverbial penalty shoot-out….
Up steps Harry Kewell (Liverpool) and again Lucas Neill (West Ham) who both see Yoshi Kawaguchi making saves that helps to eliminate the Aussies from a competition that they thought they would win. Well taken earlier John (Ex Pompey) but more importantly well done Yoshi (not Kamikaze) but hero in Japan Kawaguchi. I still remember meeting him personally at Fratton; with photos taken, and more recently when I dropped his name when in Tokyo for business, as to how highly regarded he is in the land of the red sun.
May Japan and Yoshi prosper; he is a really nice bloke who unfortunately didn’t quite make it in the English League.
He played particularly well against Man City I recollect one year as they went on to be promoted as we beat them by the normal score of 2-1 but I also remember his height being a problem. Yesterday he rose to new heights and with it protected his status in his homeland Japan. Believe me but everybody in Japan knows this man…. bigger than Beckham.
Written by Pompeygray