Despite the enforced hiatus in Frontale fun due to some other competition taking place in South Africa, there's still news enough to merit a quick update.
It's been a bit of a mixed bag for our four World Cup hopefuls. Chong Tese is undoubtedly getting the most press coverage, and deservedly so judging by the two belters he scored in a warm-up game against Greece the other week. The sturdy striker is reported to have had a trial with an unnamed EPL team earlier this year, and is hoping to attract the attention of Europe's top coaches during North Korea's spell in the limelight this summer.
Would losing Chong be a major blow to Frontale's title aspirations? I'm not so sure. World Cups tend to throw up some rather inflated transfer fees and, who knows, if coach Takahata could bring in a couple of quality signings in his place, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Things have also been going well for Eiji Kawashima, who has given himself every chance of being named in Japan's starting XI. A man-of-the-match performance against England (including a penalty stop and an even more impressive finger-tip save from Wayne Rooney's corner-bound curler) was backed up by a reasonably solid display against Ivory Coast. With Seigo Narazaki looking decidedly out of sorts against South Korea, this could be the chance the big shot-stopper has been waiting for.
Opportunities to impress have been a bit more sparse for Kengo and Inamoto. Japan coach Takeshi Okada gave both players a run-out in the second half against Ivory Coast, but neither was involved against England, and Kengo only had a couple of minutes against South Korea.
To be fair, Inamoto was only ever going to be a bench player at best. Kengo, on the other hand, appeared to have cemented his place in the team over the past year or so. As the only player who's been able to provide any real penetration in the final third for Japan, it's difficult to understand Okada's apparent preference for the more workman-like approach of Kobe's Yoshito Okubo.
Closer to home, veteran defender Shuhei Terada has undergone operations on both knees, and is likely to need at least two-month's rehabilitation. If the club do end up pocketing a Chong-sized cheque over the course of the summer, one would think an established centre-back must be pretty high on Takahata's wishlist.
Also missing matches will be Yusuke Mori. The feisty right-back's outspoken behaviour at the end of the Jubilo Iwata game compelled the J.League's disciplinary committee to slap him with a two-match ban. The club has since taken it upon themselves to impose their own two-match ban, making it a total of four games in all. Not entirely sure of the nature of the offence, but where there's Mori there's usually fire.