Japan are the new Unofficial Football World Champions! Shinji Okazaki was the hero of the day, netting the game’s only goal from a rebound after 18 minutes. It’s the very first time Japan has held the UFWC title.
Argentina went into the match as UFWC champions and clear favourites, having comprehensively beaten FIFA champs Spain 4-1 last month. It was Japan’s 6th UFWC title match, and they’d lost all 5 previous ones.
Argentina lined up with Carlos Tevez, Diego Milito and Lionel Messi up front. The selection of the recently-injured Messi guaranteed Argentina a $200,000 bonus from the Japanese football association.
And Messi was probably the pick of Argentina’s players in a mediocre side. That’s not to downplay the achievement of Japan, who played an up-tempo counter-attacking game under new coach Alberto Zaccheroni. For Argentina caretaker coach Sergio Batista this hardly helped his chances of taking the job on a permanent basis.
So Japan have halted the short reign of Argentina to take the Unofficial Football World Championships title. Interestingly, that means that the UFWC will now be contested at the Asian Cup in January.
But we don’t have to wait anything like that long for the next UFWC title match. Japan will defend their unofficial title in South Korea on Tuesday. We’ll have more on that match soon.