London 2012: 10 Bold Predictions for Japan vs. Honduras
As group play in the London 2012 Men's Olympic Football Tournament concludes, Takashi Sekizuka's Japan and Luis Fernando Suarez's Honduras come into their match knowing that a draw will be enough for both of them to go through.
However, there is a bit of a sense of urgency from La Bicolor Olimpica to get all three points and hold off Morocco, who may be sensing blood in the water in their match with Spain. As for Japan, they want to use Wednesday's contest at the City of Coventry Stadium as a tuneup for the business end of the tournament.
Kickoff at the home of Coventry City is scheduled for 5 p.m. BST (Noon, EDT). The match referee has one of the best names at this tournament: Slim Jedidi of Tunisia. Here are 10 bold predictions for Japan vs. Honduras.
1. A Low-Scoring Game: Under Five Goals
The goals won't be flying in this match. Japan won their two matches by the score of 1-0, while Honduras drew 2-2 with Morocco and defeated Spain by a goal.
With both teams needing a draw, the Blue Samurai and Olympic Bicolor will be playing tentative football. Under five goals will be scored in this contest.
2. Japan Will Score First
The Blue Samurai will score first, using their speed and quickness to create a crisp offensive sequence in the first half. Yuki Otsu of Borussia Monchengladbach scored a game-winner against Spain and will be looked on to deliver once again against Honduras.
3. Kensuke Nagai on the Scoresheet for Japan
As a striker for Nagoya Grampus, Kensuke Nagai scored 11 goals in 43 league appearances for his club. The hero late for Japan against Morocco, Nagai will give the Blue Samurai their second goal of the match.
4. Jerry Bengtson with a Brace for Honduras
If there is one reason as to why Honduras are in this tournament, it's the play of striker Jerry Bengtson. The New England Revolution forward already has three goals this tournament and has an ability to deliver when it matters most.
Bengtson will get a first-half brace to give Honduran football fans something to smile about.
5. Keigo Higashi with Two Assists for Japan
Japan have an influx of youth in the midfield. One of those midfielders that could have a big game is Omiya Ardija's Keigo Higashi.
He already has five goals in 27 appearances for his country, and will be ready to record a couple of assists for the Blue Samurai.
6. Andy Najar with Two Assists for Honduras
Major League Soccer is leaving its mark on this tournament, for sure. D.C. United's Andy Najar stands testament to that, and so he will record two assists on the goals to Bengtson against Japan.
7. At Least Five Saves from Jose Mendoza
Honduran goalkeeper Jose Mendoza hails from C.D. Plantense of the Liga Nacional de Honduras. He will need to make at least five saves against a Japanese attack that has speed and pace.
8. At Least Five Saves from Shuichi Gonda
F.C. Tokyo Shuichi Gonda is a bona fide veteran, with 99 league appearances to his credit. This is going to be a good, if struggling, night for the goalkeepers, so look for Gonda to make at least five saves against Honduras.
9. A Chippy Game: Over 25 Fouls and Seven Yellows
And in a game that is a possible preview of the quarterfinals, there will be plenty of chippy play between Japan and Honduras. Over 25 fouls will called and seven yellow cards will be issued. It's not easy being Slim. Jedidi, that is.
10. Japan vs. Honduras Ends in a Draw
The fans at the City of Coventry Stadium will have gotten their money's worth for sure. This is a match between two teams that have all but punched their ticket to the quarterfinals. This contest will end in a draw.
Japan 2, Honduras 2