Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that the Olympics are being held in London this year, but what you may not know is that the Olympic football will be spread out across the country, and good old St. James Park (urgh…Sports Direct Arena) is going to be hosting a portion of the games.
Japan are entering in both Male and Female football teams into the games, the highest both teams have reached in the Olympics in the quarterfinals stage in 2000 and 2004 respectively. There is a chance that the female team may play a game at St. James depending on how their group goes, however it was confirmed in yesterdays draw that at least one game will be played by the Japanese male Olympic team in Newcastle.
Match15: 29 July 2012, 19:45 — Japan vs Morocco — St. James Park.
Japan’s male team (nicknamed ‘Samurai Blue’ サムライ・ブルー) have drawn Group D, along with Spain, Morocco and Honduras. If Japan is the runner up in their group they will play another game at St. James Park. Japan’s female team have drawn group F with Canada, Sweden and South Africa. They are not playing at St. James Park but if they come third in their group they could play a game in Newcastle.
The Last Olympic Japanese Football Team in 2008
Olympic football is notoriously different to that of the World Cup as in the spirit of the original games the players are supposed to be non-professional athletes. The distinction in what is and isn’t a professional is somewhat blurry so the rules state that the team must be composed of under 23’s (3 players may be above that age) and no player that has competed in a World Cup tournament may enter the Olympics (the same restrictions do not apply to Women). This has produced some results that seem bizarre when compared to the ‘major leagues’ results and winners, with such Olympic football teams as Uruguay winning two Olympics in a row. This arguably makes the results more exciting and unpredictable than the World Cup as it appears that anyone has a shot at winning!
Other Games that will be played for certain at St. James Park are;
Match 2: Mexico Vs South Korea
Japan's Special Olympic Strip for 2012
Match 5: Gabon Vs Switzerland
Match 17: Brazil Vs New Zealand
Match 12: Spain Vs Honduras
Match 15: Japan Vs Morocco
Match 27: Winner Group C Vs Runner Up Group D
Match 14: Canada Vs Sweden
Match 16: France Vs Colombia
Match 20: Winner Group G Vs Third Place E or F
Howay Samurai Blue!