The JFA has announced that Japan will take part in the Kirin Cup in June. The tournament, which was thought to have been cancelled following the devastating earthquake and tsunami, will see Japan compete with Peru and the Czech Republic. FIFA has today confirmed that the tournament games will be considered ‘A’ matches, and will therefore count as UFWC title matches.
‘Professional baseball and the J League have started their seasons and we came to the conclusion that we can hold the Kirin Cup,’ said JFA Vice President Kozo Tashima. Up until recently it had looked like Japan would not take part in the Copa America in July, so the announcement that they will also take part in the Kirin Cup came as something of a surprise.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said, ‘It’s been two months since we last played – at the end of March – and I’m pleased that we can get together for this tournament. As the European season will be finished, I expect our Europe-based players will be able to focus more on these games.’
The Kirin Cup is an annual tournament sponsored by the Kirin Brewery Company. The opening match is Japan vs Peru on June 1 in Niigata, and this is now the next UFWC title match.
If Japan can avoid defeat and retain their title, the next title match will see them play the Czech Republic on 7 June in Yokohama. If they can win or draw that one, Japan will take the title to the Copa America and face Colombia on 2 July. Sorry Colombia fans, your UFWC title match has been put on ice.
Of course, there is a good possibility that Peru will defeat Japan and take the UFWC title. If so, the next title match would be Peru vs Czech Republic on 4 June. Peru will also participate in the Copa America.
Followers of the UFWC’s Continental spin-offs will know that Peru are the current unofficial South American champions. Peru’s greatest UFWC moment was a 1-0 win over France in 1982. They’ve won 7 UFWC title matches and are 22nd in the overall UFWC rankings.
So, in a surprise turnaround, the next UFWC title match is now little more than a month away. We’ll be building up to Japan vs Peru as the game approaches.