okada laps up sa vibe

TAKESHI Okada, coach of Japan's national soccer side, has fallen in love with South Africa and can't wait to return for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

TAKESHI Okada, coach of Japan's national soccer side, has fallen in love with South Africa and can't wait to return for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Okada was impressed by the vibe during the international friendly against Bafana Bafana at the new Nelson Mandela Sports Complex in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The teams played to a goalless draw in the 45931-seater, multipurpose facility.

Okada, whose team plays Hong Kong away tomorrow, said they were happy with the support from South African fans.

"The atmosphere was great before and during the match, it was a great vibe and we all enjoyed and appreciated it from the South Africans fans," he said.

"This is great for the World Cup and we are looking forward to coming back to South Africa because we know that you have great fans."

As part of their social responsibility programme, the Japanese side also spent time with orphans in port Elizabeth on Thursday.

The children from the Eastern Province Child and Youth Care Centre, aged between seven and 16, were also taught basic soccer skills by the Japanese.

On their game with Bafana Bafana, Okada - speaking through an interpreter - said they were disappointed not to accomplish their mission of embarrassing the 2010 World Cup hosts.

"We are disappointed not to win the game, we came here for a win as part of the preparations for the World Cup," Okada said. "It was a great experience for us to visit South Africa and we enjoyed everything."

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Japan has denied reports that its players and sofficials were instructed to remain inside their hotel rooms prior to the game with Bafana Bafana to avoid becoming victims of crime.

X