|Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002 - Final Countdown|
|Colored image of the manga.|
|Original run||#2002-07-01 (2002-05-24, oneshot)|
|Magazine||Weekly Young Jump|
Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002 - Final Countdown (キャプテン翼 ROAD TO 2002 Final Countdown) is a 48-page oneshot released in commemoration of Korea-Japan 2002. Despite the name, the story has no direct relationship with the canon of the "Road to 2002" storyline.
The oneshot was originally published in Shueisha's seinen magazine Weekly Young Jump special issue #2002-07-01 (released on sale starting 2002-05-24). The story was compiled, along with other short stories not related to the main series, in Captain Tsubasa Tanpenshu: Dream Field.
On 2002-05, in the last test match before the start of Korea-Japan 2002, the Japanese team faces Netherlands, a team that was unable to qualify to the World Cup. The team, affected by injuries and suspensions due to doping suspicions, is coached by Creyff (pastiche of Johan Cruyff) with the support of Rijkaardolf, Guelich and Van Bos (homages to Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten respectively) who are preparing a strong team for Germany 2006 in order to emulate what France did in France 98 after they lackluster performance years before when they did not qualify for USA 94. This Dutch team has been extremely successful with the new pivot, Brian Cruyfford. The team has several pastiches of real footballers of the time like Edgar Davids (Davi), Marc Overmars (Overus), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Van Nistel), Patrick Kluivert (Luikal) and Edwin van der Sar (Var Len Fort). The Japanese team has all notable members last seen in World Youth, such as Tomeya Akai and Shingo Aoi along with the rest of the regulars like Tsubasa Ozora, Genzo Wakabayashi and Kojiro Hyuga. Before the match, Japanese football executives do not believe that it would be a good match for Japan as Netherlands strength might lower the morale prior to the World Cup, but Munemasa Katagiri reminds them that the team wants a strong opponent to improve their skills, pointing out that they were affected by the rain in their friendly match against France on 2001-03-24 where they badly lost, but they got back on track by becoming runner-ups at the Confederations Cup of that year, and even defeating Poland in a friendly match on 2002-03-27, where the state of the field wasn't good, and also that the Japanese team lost all their matches in France 98, so they had nothing to lose even if Netherlands defeated them (all matches mentioned by Katagiri were real life matches).
During the match, Tsubasa and Cruyfford have the most prominent duel. Cruyfford scores the first goal despite Japan's best efforts. With the full support of the public, Japan manages to tie thanks to Hyuga, who beats Vaa Ren Fort after the goalkeeper successfully defended Tsubasa's shoot. While the Dutch are admiring the Japanese performance, they get surprised that Tsubasa takes the ball from the goal to return it to the middle of the field. Tsubasa claims that the match is so enjoyable that he desires to continue playing as soon as possible. The story ends with a message about Japan's then-future debut on 2002-06-04 against Belgium.
- Report of France vs Japan friendly match (2001-03-24) on Soccerphile
- Overview of the Confederations Cup 2001 at FIFA.com
- Report of Poland vs Japan friendly match (2002-03-27) on SoccerWay