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World Cup 2003

Second World Cup triumph for Japan
The second American Football World Cup was held from July 10 through July 12 in Germany (Hanau and Wiesbaden). Like in 1999 Japan again was the best team of the tournament. The defending world champion, who had nine players from the 1999 championship team on its roster, advanced to the final by beating France 23-6 in the semifinals. In the final Japan again battled Mexico, which defeated tournament host and european champion Germany 21-17 in the other semifinal match, for the championship. This time Japan won by a score of 34-14. Team Japan earned half of the spots on the World Cup All-Star team (12 of 24) with RB Ikunori Hanna being named MVP of World Cup 2003.

The japanese fans had plenty to cheer for at the World Cup in Germany.
(Photo: www.football-pics.com, Marc Schüler)

Japan - France
The final score of 23-6 indicated a onesided game but in the first half Japan struggled on offense. The momentum shifted at the beginning of the second half because of Japan's special teams play. The first possession of France in the second half ended after three plays with a punt. Japan blocked the punt by QB/P Vincent Lelard and FS Toshinobu Ichikawa, one of the nine world champions from 1999, recovered the ball in the french endzone for the first touchdown. The following possession of France again ended after three unsuccesful plays with a punt. A 12-yard return by Takao Mizuguchi gave Japan a first down at the french 26-yard line. Four plays later Japan increased the lead to 10-0. Three penalties during the next possession forced France to punt again. A couple of plays later Japan added another field goal to take a 13-0 lead.
The game was decided about one and a half minutes before the end of the third quarter. Three plays after Japan's second field goal Lelard lost the ball. LB Shinzo Yamada, who played for the Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe in the spring of 2003, recovered the ball at the french 31-yard line. On the next play QB Yuichi Tomizawa hit WR Takao Mizuguchi for the touchdown that gave Japan a 20-0 lead after three quarters.

Yuichi Tomizawa's touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter gave
Japan a 20-0 lead against France.
(Photo: www.football-pics.com, Marc Schüler)

Japan - Mexico
The rematch of the 1999 championship game was not as dramatic as the game four years ago. Like in 1999 Mexico again hurt itself with five turnovers that either led to japanese scores or ended promising mexican drives. Mexico had the better start and marched to a 7-0 lead in just six plays. Japan started slow on offense and did not score until early in the second quarter after the defense had forced Mexico to punt from their own endzone and Ken Shimizu returned the ball 17 yards to the mexican 27-yard line. Japan took the first lead (14-7) with a 33-yard interception return by Kanehito Tamai. Japan's field goal to increase the lead to 17-7 was the result of another mexican punt out the own endzone and another return by Shimizu (10 yards) to the mexican 27-yard line.
Mexico had the chance to change the momentum. With the first possession of the second half Mexico reached the japanese 10-yard line in nine plays before a 15-yard penalty and an interception by Yasumasa Tamanoi stopped the drive. Still, with the following possession Mexico cut Japan's lead to three points when QB Juan Zamora capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to WR Juan Wong. But Mexico had little time to celebrate. Two plays later RB Ikunori Hanna broke free on the right side and gave Japan a 24-14 lead with a 59-yard touchdown run. After that score Japan controlled the game with a strong running game, scored another touchdown (31-14) with a time consuming 11-play drive that took five minutes and 29 seconds off the clock, and added a field goal (34-14) following a mexican fumble at Japan's 34-yard line.

Mexico's defense was unable to stop RB Ikunori Hanna
in the World Cup final.
(Photo: www.football-pics.com, Marc Schüler)

(Text: Dieter Hoch)

3rd Place

Statistics and Play-by-Plays:
Japan - France
Germany - Mexico
Germany - France
Japan - Mexico

(Source: IFAF)

World Cup Qualifier

February 23, 2003, Nagai Stadium, Osaka (Japan)
South Korea00000
7-0Morimoto5 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
14-0Furutani3 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
21-0Morimoto14 yard pass from Tomizawa (Yamaguchi kick)
28-0Furutani48 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
35-0Mizuguchi34 yard pass from Takahashi (Yamaguchi kick)
41-0Morimoto18 yard run (kick no good)
47-0Itai20 yard pass from Takahashi (Yamaguchi kick)
54-0Morimoto2 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
60-0Watanabe34 yard interception return (kick no good)
67-0Hanna2 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
74-0Morimoto3 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
81-0Furutani2 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
88-0Furutani10 yard run (Yamaguchi kick)
Attendance: 14.000

Team Statistics
JapanSouth Korea
26First Downs3
43Rushing Plays35
363Net Yards Rushing48
162Net Yards Passing-4
1Fumbles Lost5
23:31Time of Possession24:29

(Source: X League)

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