Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda’s award-winning fragrance leaves some wondering if his head is still in the game

RocketNews 24:

It’s safe to say that the current main sports in Japan are baseball and soccer. The older of the two, Japanese baseball, can be defined by its players’ almost militaristic commitment to the game developed through the harsh training they undergo as youths.

However, with soccer, it’s not uncommon to see players with shaggy long hair or even dye jobs, and along with that a new attitude to playing professional sports in Japan. As a result, the nation may be witnessing its first true sports celebrity in Keisuke Honda: AC Milan and Japanese National Team forward and now an award-winning perfumer.

■ L’eau de Diamond by Keisuke Honda

On September 10 the Japanese Fragrance Association got together and honored L’eau de Diamond with two of their prestigious awards: Popular Men’s “Fragrance of the Year” and “Best Bottle Design.”

This scent was a joint venture of Honda and Japanese fragrance maker Fits which was released in 2013.

More than just critically, L’eau de Diamond has excelled commercially as well. It’s said that to be a hit a scent should sell 30,000 units in a year, but Honda was able to move an impressive 140,000 bottles in only ten months. Sales also show no signs of slowing.

Although he’s clearly gearing up for the transition from soccer to business and maybe even public office, it looks as if Honda will try to stay in the game until the World Cup Russia in 2018. We might have seen the 29-year-old make an exit before then, but after the Japanese team’s ousting in the group stage at Brazil with zero wins Honda no doubt has revenge on his mind.

So even despite his line of fragrances, fine clothes, and snappy haircuts, Honda apparently still hasn’t lost his passion to play the game that has given him so much.

South Korea surprises Australia to finish top of Group A in Asian Cup

South Korea's Lee Jeong-hyeop
South Korea’s Lee Jeong-hyeop celebrates after scoring the goal which beat Australia to the top of Group A.

South Korea upset Australia 1-0 at the Asian Cup to top the Group A standings and secure a potentially easier path to the final while leaving the host nation facing a treacherous route.

Lee Jeong-hyeop’s first-half goal gave his team a surprise lead in Brisbane, which the Koreans held on to against a wave of Socceroos attacks to clinch the victory.

South Korea finished with three wins and will play either Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals. As runners-up, Australia will play the Group B winners, China, with the defending champions, Japan, lurking as possible semi-final opponents.

The match had begun in slightly bizarre circumstances, when thousands of moths descended on to the stadium field and grandstands, forcing staff to vacuum some of the benches where players and officials were trying to sit.

Australia dominated possession and territory but paid for squandering their best chances and resting some of their key players, including the former Everton forward Tim Cahill, who only came on for the last 20 minutes when his side were desperate for an equaliser.

The Korea goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon pulled off a series of sharp saves to keep his team ahead and the visitors were unlucky not to grab a second on the counterattack as they raised hopes of winning their first Asian Cup since 1960.

Lee broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when the striker got his foot on to a perfectly angled cross from Lee Keun-ho. The glance was just enough to divert the ball into the net at the far post, evading the diving Mathew Ryan, the Australian goalkeeper who is reportedly a target for Liverpool.

Australia raised the tempo in the second half, starving South Korea of possession and pressing for an equaliser. Tomi Juric shot over the bar from close range shortly after the restart after combining with Ivan Franjic.

Then Nathan Burns almost scored when he weaved his way past two defenders and into the box only to see his shot saved. Burns was immediately replaced in a double substitution, Cahill and Robbie Kruse being introduced with 20 minutes remaining.

Kruse was given a golden chance to equalize three minutes from the end when he found himself free in the box but the Bayer Leverkusen forward could not beat Kim Jin-hyeon one on one.

Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, and Lionel Messi for UNICEF’s 1in11 Charity Campaign

Asian Cup set for 2 games Monday with Japan vs Palestinians

Yahoo News:

Defending champion Japan plays the newcomer Palestinians at Newcastle in its opening match at the Asian Cup on Monday, while Jordan takes on 2007 winner Iraq in Brisbane. Here’s a look at those Group D matches:

JAPAN vs. PALESTINE (0700 GMT): This will be the first competitive meeting between the teams, and Japan and AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda is telling the defending champions to keep it simple. “It is crucial that we don’t make stupid mistakes. Look at the kind of heat we are going to be playing in,” Honda said after Friday’s training session in temperatures of nearly 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in Newcastle.

While Japan has a record four Asian Cup titles in the past six events, the Palestinians will be making their first tournament start after qualifying by winning the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, keeping a clean sheet in all five of their matches.

Ranked 113th in the world, the Palestinians clinched a spot for the Asian Cup with a 1-0 win over the Philippines in the Maldives last May, despite the absence of several players due to travel restrictions.

To be here is a like a dream. It’s like a World Cup for us, not just the players, but all of the Palestinian people,” striker and leading goal scorer Ashraf Al Fawaghra, better known as Nu’man, said. “Through football matches we will try to send a message to the world that we are Palestinian, we are human, we want to play football.

Beijing smog a work hazard for Mariah Carey and soccer stars

China pollution
A masked man walks by the National Stadium in Beijing amid heavy smog.

L.A. Times: 

The first “airpocalypse” of fall hit Beijing this week, but local residents are not the only ones being forced to deal with the smothering smog blanketing the Chinese capital. World-class cyclists and soccer stars from Argentina and Brazil, as well as American pop diva Mariah Carey, are also contending with the city’s choking air.

Beijing’s air quality index has stayed above 300, categorized as “hazardous” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, since Wednesday. The local government raised its air pollution alert to orange, the second-highest level, advising people of all ages to avoid outdoor activities and suspending sports classes at schools.

The heavy pollution arrived just in time for the five-day Tour of Beijing, but organizers did not cancel the cycling event, which started in the nearby city of Zhangjiakou, which had lower levels of smog. The world’s top professional cyclists, including Alejandro Valverde, who finished fourth at Tour de France this year, kicked off the event Friday morning. The race ends with a 73-mile ride through the heart of Beijing on Tuesday.

Carey, meanwhile, was set to perform outdoors in Beijing’s Workers Stadium on Friday evening, and international soccer stars including Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar were scheduled to attend. Messi and Neymar arrived in the city this week with their national teams to prepare for a highly anticipated game Saturday evening.

Three months ago, a dream matchup in the World Cup final between Argentina and Brazil was spoiled by Neymar’s injury in the quarterfinals, which led to Brazil’s disastrous 7-1 defeat in the semifinals to Germany. The Beijing game promises a faceoff between two of the world’s most beloved soccer stars, but the city’s hazardous air might diminish the experience for players and fans.

The game between Argentina and Brazil, billed as “the South American Superclasico,” is set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday in Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, which hosted soccer games during the 2008 Olympics. To prepare for Saturday evening’s game, stars from both teams, including Messi and Neymar, attended practices on soccer fields in the open air Thursday, when the AQI reached as high as 499, one point shy of the maximum value of 500 for most serious air pollution.

During the practice, Messi frequently used his hands to cover his mouth and nose, and had to stop to rest many times with his hands around his waist or knees, Chinese press reported. He was pulled out of the practice early.

Weather forecasters have said rain and wind should arrive Saturday night, blowing some of the smog out of Beijing. Still, Chinese soccer fans have started to worry that their favorite players will not give their full effort under such conditions.

The soccer stars are using their lives to take the challenge of playing a soccer game in the smog. No matter how much money they make, it might not be enough for their medical bills afterward,” one commentator wrote after a story in Chinese press about Thursday’s practice.

But the Argentine national team’s new manager, Gerardo Martino, who took over the team after the World Cup, downplayed the air quality’s role in a game between the greatest rivals in international soccer.

Argentina against Brazil is the most important derby between national teams. It doesn’t matter where the match is held, it’s always important for the history between us and now also for the players,” Martino told reporters Thursday.

Brazil’s team doctor, though, has apparently recommended that aside from practices, the athletes stay indoors and avoid outside air as much as possible.

One of the pieces of advice that those responsible for pollution control give is that people should stay indoors and this is what we have done,” Rodrigo Lasmar, Brazil’s team doctor, was quoted as saying by the Estado de São Paulo newspaper.

“Our athletes stay inside the hotel and only go out for training. Out of every 24 hours, they spend 22 inside the hotel.”

For the Chinese soccer fans who have been waiting for the game between Argentina and Brazil for months, many are also concerned that the smog might spoil their viewing experience.

What if I can’t tell Messi from Neymar at Saturday night’s game?” Sun Puxue wrote in a post on Chinese social media website Weibo.

After the goal keeper kicks the ball with a long pass, all the players on the field may start wondering where the ball went,” another user from Beijing joked.

Nissin Cup Noodle’s soccer-playing Samurai heads to Manchester

 

After making his debut at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Nissin Cup Noodle‘s football-playing samurai has made yet another trek outside his native Japan, this time landing in Manchester. Trading in his blue armor from an apropos shade of red, the warrior takes on a clan of black-clad ninjas around the English city before a final showdown on Old Trafford’s iconic pitch.

Check it out above and stay tuned for more samurai soccer skills from Nissin.

 

adidas Unveils Real Madrid’s 2014/15 Third Kit by Yohji Yamamoto

Image of adidas Unveils Real Madrid's 2014/15 Third Kit by Yohji Yamamoto

 

In a departure from their collaborative Y-3 endeavor, adidas has tapped award-winning Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto to create Real Madrid‘s third kit for the 2014/15 campaign. Set to make its debut during UEFA Champions League action, the striking all-black kit takes cues from the Madridismo‘s values of greatness and determination, as well as Yamamoto’s own aesthetic, and incorporates two mythical beasts that originate in Eastern culture: the dragon king and dragon bird. Interlaced across the front of the shirt, the king symbolizes the greatness, glory, and power of the club while the bird represents resistance, determination, and agility on the way to victory.

Finished with a mao-type collar, two-color crest, and the designer’s signature, Real Madrid’s black kit is now available in limited quantities from adidas.com.

 

Image of adidas Unveils Real Madrid's 2014/15 Third Kit by Yohji Yamamoto

Image of adidas Unveils Real Madrid's 2014/15 Third Kit by Yohji Yamamoto

Image of adidas Unveils Real Madrid's 2014/15 Third Kit by Yohji Yamamoto