Over-zealous North Korean
customs officers may have contributed to Japan's first defeat
under Italian Alberto Zaccheroni earlier this week after
confiscating his favourite tube of wasabi.
After a brush with customs in Pyongyang which lasted four
hours and also resulted in players having bananas, chewing gum
and instant noodles swiped, Japan were beaten 1-0 in Pyongyang.
"They took away his tube of wasabi at the airport and he
didn't get it back," Japan Football Association (JFA) president
Junji Ogura told Friday's Nikkan Sports newspaper.
Zaccheroni carries the spicy Japanese condiment with him on
trips, squirting it on everything, even plain rice - a recipe
which worked, the Blue Samurai unbeaten in his first 16 games in
"He always asks for wasabi and prefers the cheap (100 yen -
$1.30) tube to the expensive stuff," added Ogura, noting
Zaccheroni had eaten little but bread for three days in
"I apologised to him for there being no wasabi after the
Japan's defeat was otherwise academic, the Asian champions
having already qualified for the final round of regional 2014
qualifiers. North Korea had already been eliminated.
"I was looking to experiment with a few things in
Pyongyang," said Zaccheroni, whose team were a shadow of the
team which began the year in such style.
"It was a bizarre place but we took some positives from the
Japan face Uzbekistan at home on February 29 in their final
match in the third round of Asian qualifiers when they will need
to win to finish above the former Soviets in Group C.
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