nice to hear from you, Lakeside. I was thinking how lonely this thread has been recently...in contrast to the activity in the Korea/China/Iran forums... I'll babble my responses below -- His emphasis on the Kazu/etc group probably resulted from what he saw leading up to the last world cup, in which the tornado of enthusiasm essentially left them behind without a glace...new era, new coach, new superstars, chance at playing WC at home... As an ex-international player and a star at that, he probably felt that there was value to bringing them back to the team before the next year, in which there would be little time to spend on events like this and before they got older too. As for whether he cared about the starters, and why he came up with this idea now, to use in the WCQ match against Singapore: From my understanding, there are a number of logistical and value hurdles that Zico had to consider. 1) that the European players' clubs would put up a mighty stink about letting them go. With next year's difficult schedule to think of, Zico knew that this was not the place to pull rank with them. 2) the J-League is in the midst of the final games -- many of the concerned players are part of teams that have a chance at championship, or are in danger of slipping to the J2. As you probably know, the schedule for the NT training next week will be interrupted once/twice, in order for them to join their J team for scheduled games. 3) this is the final game, played in front of the home crowd, but is essentially a moot game wrt qualifying. How do you bring interest and meaning/value to this game so that the fans can be a part of that progression into the next round? 4) the emphasis on winning the game, giving it value by not being a throwaway. The other big issue that was argued was the idea of using young/new players. In effect, experimentation would probably create more questions than answers with this game. I'm not sure how one could qualify the performance of these new players or of any new strategies. The opponent is nothing like any of the teams Japan will be seeing in the next two years, and it may provide a warped view of any outcome, leading to confusion later on. I get the impression that Zico is more concerned with "testing" his team during games against high-level teams, as this is where players will be closest to the bar at WCQ/WC06. I really believe that in the training session scheduled for next January, you will see some of these "new" players being called up -- they will be watched in training and used accordingly in the friendlies ahead. In fact, some of them will probably be called up in the Germany match... And to give symbolically the juiciest portion of the qualifying games this year to people who had nothing to do with the efforts of the NT this year or leading up to the present Japan football scene.... perhaps it didn't jive with his notion of what the game should represent/project going forward. I don't get the impression that this was a callous idea borne out of no thought, but perhaps the best idea he could find to satisfy all the above. But the team, both starters and subs, have indicated their wish to have the sub group play -- their own desire for experiencing the qualifiers and being part of the push ahead to next year, even though it will mean a heavy and erratic schedule for them. Zico heard them, and that was that.