USA and Japan Battling for World Football Supremacy For 2nd Time

IFAF World Championship: USA v. Japan, Gold Medal Game

The United States enter this gold medal final as overwhelming favorites to three peat as World Champions after demolishing all opposition so far in the 2015 IFAF World Championship.

When the two teams met on July 12 Team USA started slowly and it wasn’t until the third quarter that they figured the Japanese game out. Leading 11-3 at that juncture, running back Sadale Foster broke for a 60 yard touchdown run and the dam broke as the Americans scored 32 second half points to win going away 43-18. The US quarterbacking tandem of Kevin Burke and Ryan Favre threw for 353 yards while Foster, Aaron Wimberly and co. added another 227 yards on the ground. In fact the only offensive hiccup was the three interceptions the two pivots threw.

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Wide receiver Trent Steelman added to the American offensive onslaught with seven receptions against Japan, tied for fourth all-time in a single game.

Team Japan quarterback Japan quarterback Shohei Kato was outstanding in a losing cause  as he set IFAF World Championship records for pass attempts and completions, finding his receivers on 28-of-49 attempts. In fact, Kato’s 273 passing yards in that game ranks third on the all-time list in a single game.

In other words, this was a wide open football game by two very coached teams. More of the same can be expected today. United States head coach Dan Hawkins is not underestimating Team Japan in any way despite their seemingly comfortable victory earlier:

“They’re a precision machine. They just don’t make mistakes. You hardly ever see them miss a block or be out of position. They just do everything really well and are very well coached and those guys are tough to beat. They have 11 guys who kind of operate with one heartbeat and one mind. They’ll take advantage of one missed step. And they just keep playing, and you’ve got to have a lot of respect for that.”

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Japan’s defense had some luck versus the USA.

Japan has won this gold medal game twice before (1999 and 2003) and lost it once to the USA in 2007 in a double overtime contest decided by a 23 yard field goal by Craig Coffin. There is a great deal of pride at stake. They do not want to be the team to concede the Americans their third consecutive World Championship even if it is on their own home soil.

Japan head coach Kiyoyuki Mori:

“The dedication of all our players and coaches and staff is our strength. We don’t have great size, but we just swarm to the ball, play hard and get the ball. If they have the ball, we never give up.”

The game will mark the final time that 46 year old veteran Japanese defensive lineman Yasuo Wakisaka will suit up for Japan. Wakisaka is the only player participating at the 2015 IFAF World Championship who boasts two gold medals in his collection. He also is the only player to have played at each of the four previous IFAF World Championships and has said that he will retire after Saturday night’s gold medal game.

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“I want to show how good Japanese football is to the world, and this will be my last chance to do that and to win another world championship. I have been playing football for 31 years, and my dream has been to play against the United States in America.”

Watch the game live July 18, kickoff is at 7:00 PM EDT in Canton, Ohio.

All games will be broadcast live and streamed globally on ESPN3 in the United States, on ESPN International broadband channels where available, and at

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.