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Japan must choose wisely

 By Kelvin Leong

Singapore must forget Japan WC blues and paint Kallang red vs. Syria

Singapore must take advantage of playing at home against Syria on Tuesday. (Photo credit: FAS)

Forget last Thursday's 3-0 loss to Japan. Singapore's biggest match of their AFC 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign will be against Syria on Tuesday night at the National Stadium.

Bernd Stange's side must not let the Japanese result linger in their minds as they prepare for battle against the Eagles from Damascus.

Sitting at 132nd on the FIFA world rankings, the West Asians, coached by Fajr Ibrahim, are by no means unbeatable when it comes to playing on Southeast Asian soil.

Two years ago, they...

 By Kelvin Leong

Japan's Kagawa and Honda look for way past spirited Singapore

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts preview Singapore's clash against Japan in 2018 AFC World Cup qualifying.

Ever since the AFC second round 2018 World Cup draw was made in Kuala Lumpur six months ago, Singaporeans have been eagerly awaiting the biggest game of Group E -- Singapore vs. Japan at the new National Stadium in Kallang.

The excitement of seeing superstars like Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo has gone up a notch ever since the Samurai Blue touched down at Changi International Airport on Monday.

What has added to the spice of this game is the goalless draw in Saitama in June, as...

Japan's Yoshinori Muto setting the Bundesliga alight at Mainz

Yoshinori Muto continued his impressive start to his European career by scoring a hat trick in Mainz 05's 3-3 draw away to Augsburg on Saturday. The Japanese international turned down a transfer to Chelsea in favour of a move to the Bundesliga, and his decision is bearing fruit in the form of both playing time and goals.

Muto was born in Tokyo and began his career in the youth ranks of the capital-city club FC Tokyo. He left in 2010 to pursue an academic career, in economics, at Keio University,...

 By John Duerden

Asian football nations could learn from Japan's Rugby World Cup team

Though the team did not make it to the knockout round, Japan's squad at the Rugby World Cup could be a model for Asian footballing nations.

Japan's efforts at the 2015 Rugby World Cup were heroic, and it is cruel indeed when a team wins three out of four matches and still goes home at the end of the group stage. Yet there were plenty of lessons that Asian football teams can learn from Japanese exploits in England over the past few weeks.

Here are five things Asian football can learn from their rugby-playing counterparts in Japan:

1. Be aggressive, even against the very best

Fortune favoured the Brave Blossoms late in the game in a win...

 By Kelvin Leong

Singapore can dream of 2019 AFC Asian Cup with lady luck on their side

Baihakki had a sensational game against Afghanistan last week.

Four games on the road to the Russia 2018, Singapore have laid to rest the ghosts from last year's shambolic AFF Suzuki Cup campaign as they seek to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time since 1984.

At the halfway mark in the AFC second round, Singapore are on target for the regional showpiece in United Arab Emriates in 2019 thanks to a rock-solid defence, a red hot striker and a dose of lady luck.

They've won two matches, drawn away to Japan and lost narrowly to Syria.

Still not convinced?...

 By John Duerden

Australia lose in Amman while Kagawa bails Japan out against Syria

Australia were downed 2-0 by Jordan in Amman on Thursday night.

The halfway stage of the second round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup was all about the big boys from East Asia -- Japan, South Korea, China -- and beyond (Australia) travelling significant distances to face mid-level West Asian teams away from home.

Two won and two lost in an exciting night of Asian football. There was little to smile about in Amman for Australia as the men in green and gold lost in their second successive visit. The Socceroos crashed in Jordan in qualification for the...