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FUTSAL/ 'King Kazu' at 45 aims for Futsal World Cup - Asahi Shimbun
Saturday, 29 September 2012 02:07
futsalwireAsahi ShimbunEven though former Japanese soccer team superstar Kazuyoshi Miura is 45, the national men's futsal team is hoping that "King Kazu" still has a strong World Cup left in him. The Japanese national futsal team is counting on the rich experience and ...


Even though former Japanese soccer team superstar Kazuyoshi Miura is 45, the national men's futsal team is hoping that "King Kazu" still has a strong World Cup left in him.

The Japanese national futsal team is counting on the rich experience and leadership of Miura, who is currently the oldest player in Japans professional soccer league.

FUTSAL NATIONAL TRAINING CAMP All candidates for the Japanese national futsal team were training together in Nagoya from Sept.

24-26 ahead of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, to be held in Thailand in November.

More than 70 members of the media showed up for the camp--an unusual number for a futsal event--to cover Miura, who is currently a forward for the J2 team Yokohama F.C.

I was careful not to aggravate my injury.

If my condition gets worse, I wont be able to recover in time for the World Cup, Miura told reporters.

Miura injured his neck in late August while playing in the J2 League.

Despite the injury, he joined the national futsal team training camp due to his sense of responsibility--given him by the Japan Futsal Federation--to boost the popularity of the five-a-side indoor sport in Japan.

Kaoru Morinaga, 33, who was selected as last seasons MVP in the Japan futsal league, known as the F.League, was surprised at King Kazus influence on the sport.

Kazus presence itself is heating up Japans futsal world.

It gives us energy ahead of the World Cup, he said.

SPEED AND QUICK SWITCHES How is futsal different from soccer? Many people in Japan see futsal as a miniature soccer game and are not very familiar with the rules and the game.

Official futsal games are held indoors--usually in gymnasiums--in a space that is roughly one-ninth the size of a soccer field.

Futsal balls are also smaller than soccer balls, and the five members of the team can change positions freely during a game.

Miura had played futsal for two years after he dropped out of a Japanese high school and went to Brazil for soccer training.

Most non-fans may think that the two sports are very similar.

They kick the ball the same way, after all.

But F.League Nagoya Oceans manager Jose Adil Amarante said the two sports require completely different skill sets from its players.

(In futsal) players are constantly moving," said Amarante, 46.

"There is no time to rest.

It requires high-level skills and speed.

Slow players get in the way even during practice sessions.

In futsal, the same players have to quickly switch between offense and defense as they do in basketball.

Thats one of the appeals of futsal.

But in Japan, many people play futsal for recreation only and treat it like a miniature form of soccer.

Many national-level soccer players like Brazilians Ronaldinho and Robinho used to play futsal before switching to soccer.

But I have never seen the reverse happen, Amarante said.

THE KING CONFIDENT HE CAN ADJUST Will King Kazu be able to conquer futsal as he did soccer? Miura has the leadership and experience that the current national futsal team lacks, said Japanese national mens futsal team head coach Miguel Rodrigo, 42, about why he invited Miura to the training camp.

But the potential impact he can make at the World Cup is difficult to predict.

In futsal, players are evaluated for both their offensive and defensive skills as well as for setting picks for other players.

During training, Miura reportedly stayed behind after team meetings to watch videos of more than 20 set play patterns by overseas futsal teams.

He also took part in strategic training for the first time.

But during the training camp, his moves were a bit awkward, because he was listening for advice from the head coach and other members about set plays and defensive setups.

I need to get used to it.

I hope to learn from my mistakes, Miura told reporters.

Miura apparently told the Spanish head coach that he knows the plays in his mind but his body cant keep up with the pace of the game.

Miura said he was determined to get better, the head coach added.

At the FIFA Futsal World Cup--which kicks off roughly one month from now--Japan aims to break through the first round.

I think it may take some time, but Im sure (Miura) can adjust because he has experience and an eye for game strategies, said Kenichi Kogure, 32, a veteran Japanese national men's futsal team member.

Miura, who had been a constant and a superstar of the Japanese soccer world, continues to work on this new challenge at an age when most players have hung up their cleats.