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Friday, Aug. 4, 2006

Marinos spoils Nakamura's homecoming


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA -- Yokohama F. Marinos ruined Shunsuke Nakamura's homecoming with a convincing 3-0 win over Celtic in a friendly at Nissan Stadium on Thursday.

First-half headers from Hideo Oshima and Norihisa Shimizu and a late free-kick from substitute Kenta Kano embarrassed the Hoops in the only game of their visit to Japan.

Celtic coach Gordon Strachan said his team's display would have him tossing and turning.

"It's a performance that guarantees I won't be sleeping tonight," Strachan said. "To go with the two hours sleep I got on Wednesday."

Nakamura was just glad to be playing in Japan again.

"I enjoyed it very much, although it wasn't a great result," the 28-year-old said."It was a very hot night, so I feel sorry for some of my teammates, but I am just happy to be back."

Nakamura played for Marinos before transferring to Italian League club Reggiana in 2002. His old team didn't stand on ceremony, though, and it took just five minutes to open the scoring when Oshima outjumped Evander Sno to nod in a Takashi Hirano cross from the left.

Koji Yamase nearly brightened things up with a snap shot on 10 minutes, but 'keeper David Marshall was on his toes and turned the ball superbly around the post.

The second goal arrived four minutes before the break when Hayuma Tanaka's deep cross from the right was met by an unchallenged Shimizu, who powered his header past Marshall.

The 27,354-crowd was healthy for this type of friendly, the numbers swelled no doubt by Nakamura's presence, but the atmosphere was still awfully flat for most of the match. Both teams were playing with makeshift teams, Celtic missing stars Stilian Petrov and Maciej Zurawski, while the injured Bobo Balde and Shaun Maloney stayed in Scotland, too. Celtic also was suffering the effects of jetlag caused by the 10,000-mile round trip, while the sweltering conditions didn't help.

Yokohama, meanwhile, was missing internationals Tatsuhiko Kubo and Yuji Nakazawa and fielded a weakened side in front of new Japan coach Ivica Osim.

Nakamura nearly brought Celtic back into the game seconds later, but his free-kick from 30 meters whistled just over the bar, but that was the sum of its chances in an utterly disjointed first half for the visitors.

Kano showed his compatriot Nakamura how it should be done on 79 minutes when he curled in a free-kick from 25 meters past flat-footed substitute goalie Michael McGovern.

Marinos were clearly half-a-meter quicker than their opponents, not surprising considering they are nearly halfway through the season and Celtic only has one league game under its belt. That was a 4-1 win over Kilmarnock, but the Hoops face a tougher test on Sunday when they face Hearts.

With a host of big names added to the ranks, they will be confident of getting a better result than this embarrassing reverse.

Yorke coming to Japan

PORT-OF-SPAIN (AP) Dwight Yorke will leave Sydney FC's preseason buildup to lead Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly against Japan next Wednesday in Tokyo.

Yorke agreed only last week to commit to his second and last contracted season with Sydney in Australia's A League, and was working on regaining his fitness after relaxing in the wake of the World Cup.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old Yorke will be among only seven survivors from Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup squad to journey to Japan. All players in the English and Scottish leagues were unavailable.

Yorke freed himself at the request of new coach Wim Rijsbergen, who chose talent mainly from the local islands league.

Other World Cup players on the squad included Avery John, Evans Wise, Cyd Gray, Aurtis Whitley, Anthony Wolfe and David Atiba Charles. The latter pair did not play in Germany against Sweden, England or Paraguay.

"We are using the match to give some of the new local-based players a chance at the international level," Rijsbergen said on Wednesday. "This will of course be part of the future set of players from which we will build on."

Zidane tops charts

PARIS (AP) Zinedine Zidane has gone from a red card to the top of the French music charts with a song parodying the soccer star's head butt in the World Cup final.

"Coup de Boule," or the "Head Butt," pokes fun at Zidane for ramming his head into the chest of Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final July 9. Italy won the game on penalty kicks.

Lyrics warn listeners to "Watch out: it's the head-butt dance," while a chorus of "Zidane, he hit him" plays repetitively over an upbeat African tune.

"We lost the World Cup but we still laughed a lot," the song says. "Trezeguet didn't play. Barthez didn't stop anything. The sponsors are all upset."

David Trezeguet missed a penalty kick in the shootout, and Fabien Barthez was the goalkeeper who didn't stop any of Italy's penalties.



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