In the build-up to the Japan vs J-League XI charity match, here’s a look back at a previous UFWC title match involving the current unofficial football champions, unfortunately for Japan ending in a heavy defeat:
CLASSIC UFWC TITLE MATCH:
France 5-0 Japan
24 March 2001
Stade de France, Paris
Scorers: Zidane (pen), Henry, Wiltord, Trezeguet (2)
This second attempt by Japan to win the UFWC title ended in a crushing defeat – although the scoreline may have been a little harsh. Official European champions and unofficial world champions France had gone five games without loss (six if you include a 2-1 win over a FIFA Stars XI) since winning the Euro and UFWC titles.
The great Zinedine Zidane opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the ninth minute, and Thierry Henry added a second five minutes later, firing the ball underneath the squirming body of goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki from a narrow angle.
But it wasn’t all about France, and Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata almost pulled a goal back with an incredible 20-yard shot that smacked against the top corner of the goalframe.
In the second half, Nakata again threatened to put Japan back into the game with another long-range shot that stung the hands of French keeper Ulrich Rame.
But it was France who scored the next goal, with substitute Sylvain Wiltord heading home from close range following a Zidane corner.
Another sub, David Trezeguet, the man who had grabbed the golden goal in the Euro final, scored a fourth in the 61st minute, and a fifth in the 68th.
Despite being 5-0 down, Japan continued to push forward, with Nakata unleashing another long-range effort that narrowly missed the target. But the Samurai Blue were well beaten by unofficial world champions Les Bleus.
France lost the UFWC title in their next match, losing 2-1 to Spain.