With the FIFA Club World Cup returning to Tokyo in December, former Japan international striker Kazuyoshi Miura, known affectionately in his homeland as ‘King Kazu’, has been appointed ambassador for the event.
Many clubs benefited from Miura's services over the years. His first foray into European football came after joining Serie A’s Genoa in the 1994/95 season, before a stint at Croatia Zagreb. More recently, there was a loan spell at Sydney FC during which he made an appearance at the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup. It is, however, his time at the Brazilian powerhouse Santos that Miura remembers with particular fondness. ‘King Kazu’ took a moment to discuss his hopes for his old club as December approaches.
“I’m looking forward to some real excitement from Santos. It is an opportunity for them to show their brand of football on the world stage," he said. "Brazilian teams can be very shrewd. I’m sure they are already working out how to beat Barcelona. By the time kick-off comes I expect they will have done their homework, hammered out their winning strategy, and will be ready to put on a show.”
Now back in Japan, plying his trade at Yokohama FC in the J. League Division 2, the 44 year-old is also hoping for great things for the Japanese participants. As the host nation, Japan will provide one team, the champions of the J. League, which is due to reach its conclusion on 3 December 2011, less than a week before the event begins.
As Miura said: “At this stage we don’t yet know which team will be representing the J. League but whoever it is it will be a real thrill to see them take on the likes of Santos and Barcelona. For obvious personal reasons I would like to see Santos make it to the final. Having said that, for them to get that far would mean them beating the team from the J. League. So it’s not an easy choice for me to make.”