TOKYO: Japan vowed to carry on in the fighting spirit of former teammate Naoki Matsuda as they prepared to face South Korea in a home friendly while hundreds of fans attended his funeral. Matsuda, a gutsy defender who helped Japan reach the 2002 World Cup last-16 round on home turf, died last Thursday after falling into a coma with a heart attack during training two days earlier. “I believe there were so many things he still wanted to accomplish,” said Japan and CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda. “It was really unfortunate but I have seen and heard people around him vow to carry on his will.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.