The two-time defending champion Japan got off to an ideal start for its third straight title with a 48-0 landslide victory over France in the opening game of the 3rd IFAF World Championship at Todoroki Stadium on Saturday night.
Yuichi Tomizawa (Onward Skylarks), Japan's starting quarterback who led the Hinomaru squad to its second championship four years ago, threw for two touchdowns for 222 yards (13 for 23)--both of them for wide receiver Koji Yoneyama (Fujitsu Frontiers).
The 25-year-old Yoneyama caught both touchdowns in the first half.
``We came in here thinking it would be a tough game,'' Japan head coach Toshiaki Abe said after the game. ``We were ready to play a tough game.''
Team Japan's devastating surge for France, which lost to Japan 23-6 in the 2003 tourney but kept the game scoreless in the first half, got itself on scoreboard so early this time, when defensive lineman Masaki Yamanaka tackled France starting quarterback William Leonardo De Sa, forcing a safety for a 2-0 lead at 1 minute, 16 seconds entering the game.
Cheered by 12,336 enthusiastic Japanese fans, Japan's surge wouldn't stop. While the defensive corps held France's offense almost perfectly, the passing game by Tomizawa and his receivers were not match for the French men.
``Before the game, we were told by Head Coach that we would go at our max from the beginning,'' Yoneyama said after the game. ``It paid off and that makes me relieved.''
Helped by the huge margin, Abe sat Tomizawa in the second half and played back ups Kentaro Namiki and Takata Tetsuo. Japan added three more touchdowns, including by running backs Koji Sugisawa and Takuya Furutani, with 7:08 left and 0:19 minute left in the third quarter, respectively.
Defensively, Japan was marvelous as well. The defensive linemen overwhelmed the French offensive line and kept putting pressure on quarterbacks Leonardo De Sa and Paul Durand, while the linebackers and defensive back did not give the receivers to room to catch a pass easily, throughout the contest.
``We don't only play today's game but will have some other games as well,'' said Japan defensive line man and captain Yasuo Wakisaka. ``So honestly speaking, we feel like today's win happened in the past already and have started thinking about the next game.''
Wakisaka, who is making his third straight appearance in the World Championship, added that he appreciate for the coaches that devoted their efforts to build Japan a team to aim for the third consecutive championship.
``Preparation,'' Wakisaka said of the key for the win. ``Coaches have prepared us well.''**
Meanwhile, the French players looked athletic enough to play this game. But they might have lacked fundamentals and experience to play against the well-trained Japanese team, whose average age at 28.7 is the highest among the six participating nations of the 2007 World Championship.**
Especially the signal-callers Leonardo De Sa and Durand seemed to be immature, making some fumbles and exchange mistakes with the running backs, and could not read Japan's defense precisely.**
``It wasn't good,'' France coach Larry Legault said with a bitter smile. ``We wanted to keep this game with low score to have a chance to win. But it wasn't the case, obviously.''
Said wideout Marc-Angelo Soumah: ``It's disappointing. As players, we learned a lot from today. Now we have to think about the next game against Sweden.''
The top qualified teams in Group GamesÅ\Pool 1 and 2Å\will advance to the Final.
Japan (1-0 in Pool 1), will take on Sweden at 7 p.m. on Thursday, while France (0-1) is playing Sweden as well at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Both games will be held at Kawasaki Stadium.**
Pool 2 kicks off today with a Germany-Korea game at 5 p.m. at Kawasaki Stadium.