JFA sets schedule for national teams

 As part of their 2014 FIFA World Cup preparations, Japan will play Kirin Challenge Cup friendly matches on May 30 and August 14 at home, it was revealed on Wednesday in Tokyo.
 The opponents have yet to be confirmed but are expected to be top-level sides “so we can have part of our preparations for our fans at home,” JFA President Daini Kuniya said.
 The May 30 match will be played at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture, while the August 14 game will be held at Miyagi Stadium near Sendai.
 Zaccheroni said he hopes his team secures their World Cup berth as early as possible so he can concentrate on strengthening his side for the 2014 finals.
 “Our initial objective in 2013 is to qualify for the World Cup,” said the Italian coach on Wednesday. “The competition will be hard, but we’d like to make sure we secure our place in the finals as early as possible.”
Japan are on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 finals in Brazil thanks to their comfortable lead in Group B of the Asian final-round qualifiers. A win away to Jordan on March 26 will be enough for the Samurai Blue to secure their fifth straight appearance in the World Cup finals.
To gear up for the Jordan game, Japan will play a friendly in Qatar on March 22, following a match on February 6 against Latvia in Kobe, which will be the Samurai Blue’s first game of 2013.
Japan’s final two World Cup qualifiers will be against Australia on June 4 in Saitama and against Iraq in June. Details on that fixture will be confirmed later.
Japan will compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup (June 15-30) in Brazil, where they will be up against Brazil, Italy and Mexico in the group stage.
 Zaccheroni’s side will also take part in the East Asian Cup in Korea Republic in July, when they will meet hosts Korea Republic, China and Australia, and they are planning to travel abroad for friendly matches in the autumn.
 Meanwhile, the Nadeshiko Japan women’s team will participate in the Algarve Cup in Portugal (March 6-13). The Nadeshiko will then play a friendly in Tosu on June 20 before going to Europe to play against an unconfirmed team on June 26 and Germany on June 29 in Germany.
 The women’s side will take part in the East Asian Cup in Korea Republic (July 20-28) and play a couple of friendlies: on September 22 in Nagasaki and September 26 in Chiba.
 Nadeshiko Japan boss Sasaki Norio commented: “In the process of trying to retain our World Cup title [in 2015 in Canada], I am hoping to increase the depth of our team and find new forces for us. This coming year will be a good opportunity for us to give a chance to assess the younger players.”
 Futsal Japan, who reached the Last 16 at this year’s World Cup under Miguel Rodrigo, will play two friendly matches in May at home as warm-ups for the Indoor Martial Arts Games in Korea Republic from June 26 to July 6.
 Beach Soccer Japan will compete in the Asian qualifiers (January 21-26) for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Qatar. The finals will take place in September in Tahiti.