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Tuesday, 26th May 2009
In Sports,

Haircut hits headlines ahead of football friendly

Japan's national football team's preparations for this week's Kirin Cup tournament have been overshadowed - by a haircut.

The Blue Samurai are scheduled to take on Chile in Osaka on Wednesday and then Belgium in Tokyo four days later.

Although the Kirin Cup is only a friendly tournament, the matches have taken on great significance, as they represent an opportunity to prepare for Japan's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Uzbekistan, Qatar and Australia next month.

With that in mind, fans could be forgiven for expecting the media focus to be on coach Takeshi Okada's tactics and team selection.

Instead it is defender Tomoaki Makino's new hairstyle that has grabbed the headlines.

The 22-year-old Sanfrecce Hiroshima star is in line to make his international debut against Chile and has moved to mark the occasion by colouring his hair red and styling it into a Mohican in honour of the rising sun flag.

A surprised Okada told Reuters: "Maybe [Makino] is trying to get noticed by getting a Mohican. I had no idea he would go that far. Hopefully he will make a similar impression on the pitch."

Written by Graham McPherson