hey Lakeside! How've ya been? I agree with your comments. Though to be honest, if you assume the missed penalty was a goal, the score really was 3-0. And, That was NOT offside, even I have to admit that. The ref was HORRIBLE.... he couldn't tell one player from the other, and gave out two yellows that were in error for Japan. The difference I think between J and S was that S seemed to have only ONE aim-- defend defend defend, and then possibly counter with Dickson. Japan, on the other hand, the players had too much going on in their heads, and they had no focus after the first 20 minutes or so. They were aiming to win, for lots of points, to individually do something that shined, test out the 4-4-2 system, play in a team that's never played together before, and play with fan expectations. There was just no coherent aim like they had during the asia cup or the other WCQ games. The other thing was that while Japan dominated the game, all that TIME they had was difficult to control -- it's like "when do we speed up?" "when do we stay patient?"...it all blurred into one long time period that had no ups and downs. There was so much stacked up in the back in Singapore, that it must not have been terribly fun for the Japanese players either. It certainly wasn't fun for me to watch Singapore. Given that Singapore is not qualifying anyway, and there was nothing at stake like in the china/kuwait situation, Singapore should have played to score more, and not been so back-heavy and afraid to be scored on. It was the same ol same ol, and really there is no satisfaction to saying "well, at least we didn't let them score too much". It's not like Singapore is going to play Japan again in this situation for a long long time, and it would have been more fun to watch them go for it instead of sticking to a blah gameplan. (sorry, my rant!) Given everything though, I think maybe this is a good thing for the Japan team. This outcome leaves lots of room for player changes, and a very focused gameplan for Zico when choosing new players as well as focusing on offensive strategy and creativity. If Japan had pummeled Singapore, it would have been harder to qualify any statement -- naysayers would have said, well, it was a weak team so a 7-0 scoreline is meaningless; and players would have had less of a sense of "danger" leading into the next phase. I'm looking forward to seeing what changes occur between now and next february.