Japan cancels Montenegro friendly, deciding on NZ


Wed, 16 Mar 03:57:00 2011

Japan cancelled this month's international friendly against Montenegro on Wednesday in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) had hoped to host the March 25 match in Shizuoka, and another friendly against New Zealand in Tokyo four days later, to "rally the nation".

With fire breaking out at a crippled Japanese nuclear plant and low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo, however, JFA chief Junji Ogura decided to cancel the match in the city southwest of the capital, the Kyodo news agency reported.

The March 29 match against New Zealand is still under discussion with a decision due to be made on Thursday, New Zealand Football said in a statement.

"There's a huge desire to show solidarity with the Japanese people but we need to be able to guarantee the safety of our players and staff, as would any responsible organisation," said NZF Chairman Frank van Hattum.

"We are currently working with the Japanese FA and the appropriate government authorities to confirm whether those guarantees can be provided."

Japanese soccer officials had already postponed the domestic J.League indefinitely.

(For the sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport))

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