June 28, 2006

Brazilian soccer legend advises Japanese to grow taller if they want to win the World Cup:

TOKYO (AFP) - Coach Zico bade farewell to Japan with a warning that the Asian champions, who were humiliated in the World Cup, face an uphill battle making up for their physical shortcomings.

The Brazilian legend, who is now looking for jobs at European clubs, regretted that no Asian countries, barring Australia, advanced in the World Cup.

"It is very disappointing that all the Asian teams failed to reach the next round, but when you compare the teams with those who reached, the difference is apparent," Zico told his final news conference Monday as Japan's coach.

"No matter who their coaches are, it is up to the players. Unless they try to catch up with top teams in the world mentally and physically, it will be very difficult in the future as well."

Zico said that Asians, and particularly the Japanese, would always be hurt by their small stature compared with other nationalities.

"Even in the future Asian qualifying rounds for the World Cup, Japan will face a lot of long crosses from behind whenever they play a team which has a height advantage," Zico said.

"The forwards of those teams are usually 190cm tall. Those of Italy and the Netherlands are also tall. When they find it is difficult to connect a ground pass, I'm sure they will send long crosses like Australia did."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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