Logo: Forever Red Title: Japan vs. Scotland Flags: Japan vs. Scotland
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Media and match officials, including Canada's Paul Ward (2nd f/right), watch the traditional exchange of pennants between Japan's Yohei Fukumoto and Scotland's Scott Cuthbert
pennant exchange
Scotland sacked by Japanese at RAP
Nigerian drummerspacerJuly 2, Chris Vaughan Griffiths

Victoria's wee Royal Athletic Park has traditionally been a stronghold for the Island Scots, whether supporting their national squad or another long-range effort from the Scottish Premiere. But on this day, Canada Day, kick-off of the 2007 FIFA u20 World Cup in Victoria day, Scotland would neither triumph on the field nor in the stands. This day belonged to, respectively, Japan and Nigeria, who played some impressive, tenacious football, with Nigeria also lighting up the stands in that entirely marvellous, passionate, non-Canadian way that hopefully will rub off on the next generation of footy fans.

spacerFrom a position at the east goal-line, the vibrant green jerseys and coal black faces filled the south and north side grandstands and you just couldn't help but revel in whatever the hell it was they were revelling in, 'cause in truth, the Nigerian supporters weren't just here to see their boys triumph, they wanted to see football, good football, and maybe a beautiful goal or two, from anyone. Late in the Japan-Scotland affair, after a brief bagpipe parade resulted in Japan's second goal, it was the Nigerians who put down their war drums for one moment to chant for the beleagure Scots, "All we are saying, is give us a goal". Who knew John Lennon was so big in Africa!

Japan celebrates it's first of three goals against Scotland
Japan celebrates first goal
fallen Japanese
Japan scores third goalspacerIt would seem from the onset that Scotland was destined to lose it's opener against Japan. It was both a tactical and physical mismatch and although the Scots had a forray here and there, including a notably better late-second-half spell clearly brought on by the Nigerians singing Lennon tunes, they were mostly at a loss in regards to dealing with Japan who were fast, hungry, and from the kick-off, simply never stopped running at the Scots. Offensively and defensively Japan was all over the field and all over the Scottish net, with both darting breaks into the box and some blistering long-range shots that had even some dispassionate media musing, "Christ, he ripped that one!"
spacerScotland struggled with a countering shift to the air game that deflated faster than its keeper could yell, "Shite", and so eventually they did what the Scots do best... play hard knocks football. Japan's midfielder, Jun Aoyama was one of many who learned first hand what life in the Scottish leagues is like, but the tactic was rearguard, not vangard, and the resulting stoppages in play worked as much against Scotland as it did Japan. The rout continued and Aoyama would find retribution himself in the 79th min. with Japan's third goal.
spot the ball
This early scramble in the Scottish goal area produces an ideal candidate for a 'Spot the Ball Contest'. Fortunately for the Scots, Andrew McNeil found the ball mid-air before it found the back of the net
Nigerian dude Scot with hat and beard
One of these men took time out from his successful 'import/export' business, to attend the July 1 matches at RAP.
The other just made a lot of people really uncomfortable on the local bus!

Japanese fan
The action in the stands was as intoxicating as the action onfield, as one nice, capped gent discovered during the first of two matches, July 1

Ball girl at RAP
girl beautifully dressed Scottish girl waves flag
girls at RAP
Let's get a handle on at least two things here, namely, despite the fact you could be forgiven for not actually knowing the FIFA u20 World Cup was in town, on the day, it was a marvellous affair. The sun was ripping across the park with the same fury as the Japanese strikes on the Scottish net and the heavily expanded seating at RAP was pretty much wall-to-wall people. As usual, the little stadium that could, did, and Victorians and imports alike did themselves proud by complimenting some beautiful football with some beautiful support in the stands
Scottish fans
...and then there's these wankers!