World Stage Debut
Less than a week after Keiko accepted the offer to play for Nadeshiko Japan, Keiko was about to play her first international match, a friendly match against Greece.
"Let me introduce your newest teammate." Taeko said to the rest of the team on the day of the match "Some of you may have grown up knowing her surname. Girls, meet Keiko Aizawa."
Keiko's surname echoed throughout the rest of the room.
"Aizawa?" said the girl wearing the number 10 "Are you related to Kakeru Aizawa?"
"I am. He's my father." Keiko replied
"I knew it!" said the girl wearing number 7 "I'm Kotoko Yamamoto." she held out her hand and Keiko shook it "I play forward."
"And I'm Meiko Yamada." said the girl wearing number 10 "I'm the team's ace, and captain."
"More introductions later." said Taeko "Keiko, wearing the number 9, will be playing a forward as well."
"Not surprising." said Meiko "9 is one of the vacant positions."
"The game starts in half of an hour, ladies." Taeko told them "Get Keiko acquainted with the rest of you, and prepare yourselves mentally. Even though this is a friendly match, we're representing Japan, and the Greeks are not to be taken lightly." she then left them to it so that Keiko could get acquainted with the rest of the team before the game started.
Meanwhile, the stands of the stadium were filling up fast.
"I still can't believe Keiko's playing with representatives." said Miho as she and the rest of the team took their seats. The team had taken the day off to see Keiko's debut onto the world stage.
"Believe it." said a voice behind them. It was Makoto Hyodo, and the boys team
"Mako-kun, I didn't see you there." said Mai "Here to watch Aizawa too?"
"Yes, we are," said captain Yamato Koishikawa
"H-hi, Yamato." said Suzuka in an embarrassed way. It was no secret that Suzuka had a crush on Yamato
"Looks like its going to be a full house." said Kakeru as he took a seat next to Makoto. Nana and Mito sat next to him as well. Hiroki, Ryo and Koichi sat next to Mai in the row in front of them, and Hibino, Yusuke and Araki, who had all come to watch as well, sat behind Kakeru and Nana.
"Congratulations on your daughter getting in." said Makoto
"The congratulations goes to her." said Nana "Playing with the big girls will, without a doubt, increase her strength greatly."
"And she'll be a great asset to us in Inter-High, and the Winter Championship." said Yuki
"And we know your great teaching will take us there as well, Coach Murasaki." said Suzuka
Mako tapped Mai on the shoulder and whispered "You haven't told them yet?"
"I'll do so when it's most convenient." Mai whispered back. Nana overheard this and wondered what they meant.
"Here they come now." said Miki as both Nadeshiko Japan and the Greek women's team, came out onto the field
"I always dreamed of the day she would wear the national uniform." said Kakeru "Now that I know she's taken the first step into this world of soccer, I can prepare for retirement with no regrets."
"I wish that was a luxury I had." Mako thought
On the field;
At last, the great moment finally arrived when the referees led the march for both teams outside of the tunnel. As much as Keiko tried to stay cool, she was touched by the cheers of thousands cheering for Japan and by the vibrant Hans Zimmer music that has served as the official FIFA theme since 2018. For all the times Keiko dreamt of that moment, the firsthand experience was beyond anything she ever imagined.
"And here come the two national teams of today's friendly game between Nadeshiko Japan, and the Greek National Women's Soccer team." said the Male commentator as both teams got into position "There's a small change among the starters. Wearing Number 9, and playing Forward, is a newcomer to our national team, and some of you may have heard her surname. It's Keiko Aizawa. She's the daughter of our Japan's Kakeru Aizawa, and former Nadeshiko player, Nana Mishima-Aizawa, who was also known as the 'Little Witch'. According to our sources, she's already a player for her school's girls team at Enoshima High, and has so far been called the best player of the match twice in 2 games."
Just then, the captain of the Greek team, who was wearing number 10, came over to Keiko "Ελπίζω να είσαι τόσο καλός όσο λένε, ή αυτό πρόκειται να είναι βαρετή. [Elpízo̱ na eísai tóso kalós óso léne, í̱ af̱tó prókeitai na eínai varetí̱./I hope you're as good as they're saying, or this is going to be boring.]" she said to Keiko in her native language. But Keiko, unable to understand a lip of Greek, had no idea of what she was saying.
"What did she say?" Kotoko asked
"Do I look like the kind of person who understands Greek?" Keiko replied
"I guess not." Kotoko confessed
"Asking me such a question? Honestly! I can barely even speak English." Keiko thought
Keiko then looked into the stands and noticed her family and her team.
"Oh great." she said "Not only have my family and team come to watch, but so have a few of my parents' friends and the Enoshima Boys team."
"Araki, Yusuke, and Hibino?" said Meiko, who spotted them as well "Those three are ace players for the men's national team. And who're those two coming to sit down with your parents?" she asked as two more men came up to Kakeru and Nana "It's Toru Asuka and Akira Takajo! Your parents are acquainted with these big dogs?"
In the stands;
"Asuka-san? Takajo-san?" said Kakeru as they sat down next to his three youngest kids "What you two doing here?"
"Like we would miss a chance to see your daughter play internationally." said Takajo
"First Hibino, Araki and Yusuke, now Asuka and Takajo." Suzuka whispered to Miki
"We're in the presence of some of the most famous players in Japan." Miki whispered back
"Speaking of kids, how are yours doing Asuka-san?" Mai asked
"Even though they're fast leaving childhood, they're still a handful." Asuka replied
"So our sister has your eye?" Ryo asked
"More like we're here to see if she's anything like the Aizawas we know." said Takajo
"Great minds think alike." Araki said to Mako
"Ladies and gentlemen, the kickoff's about to start." said Nana. And sure enough, there was the ref's whistle, and Keiko and Kotoko kicked off.
On the field;
Almost immediately, Keiko made her way down the field toward the Greek goal with Meiko, while Kotoko dribbled the ball down. Their offensive midfielders were following not far behind. Within a minute, after passing two Greek players, Kotoko found herself blocked by three of them, one of which was the number 10, which the announcer said was Angeliki Mitsotakis. Angeliki easily stole the ball away when Kotoko tried to pass the ball, and made her way to Japan's end. Keiko, sensing danger in this, turned round and followed her. She caught up in seconds and was neck and neck with Angeliki.
"Είσαι γρήγορος. [Eísai grí̱goros./You're fast.]" Angeliki told Keiko, but Keiko still had no idea what she was saying.
Keiko managed to get in front of her and tried to steal the ball back, but Angeliki was guarding it too well. Just as Keiko made another attempt for the ball, Angeliki passed to her teammate, a forward the announcer called Sophia Theodorakis. Sophia made her way deeper into Japan's side, and Keiko continued to give chase while having Angeliki marking her. Keiko then turned around when she noticed Arimi stopping Sophia. Her prediction came true within seconds. Arimi stole the ball and made a long feed into the Greek side, where Keiko, well on her way to the Greeks' goal, was waiting to receive it. Seeing she was still marked, Keiko, knowing she couldn't hold the ball, made a one-touch pass to Meiko. Meiko then proceeded straight toward the goal, passing several defenders before being blocked by two of them. Seeing Keiko closer to the goal now, but still marked by Angeliki, Meiko passed to Keiko through one of the defenders' legs, and Keiko received it. Keiko was then blocked by Angeliki wheh she managed to get in front of her. Knowing she had to act fast, she used the Witch Turn to pass Angeliki and made a shot at the goal, but he ball just went over it.
"Close one, Keiko." said Meiko when things settled down "Your aim was perfect, you just used too much power."
"I know." Keiko replied "I probably would've had an easier time if I hadn't been marked."
"Πώς ότι μπροστά από τα δικά τους δούμε σε σας; [Pó̱s óti brostá apó ta diká tous doúme se sas?/How does that forward of theirs look to you?]" the Greek goalkeeper asked Angeliki
"Είναι πολύ καλό, Δήμητρα. Θα πρέπει να την παρακολουθούν στενά. [Eínai polý kaló, Dí̱mi̱tra. Tha prépei na ti̱n parakolouthoún stená./She's very good, Dimitra. I'll have to watch her closely.]"
The game resumed with Greece's Goal Kick. Angeliki received the ball and made her way straight into Japan's side. Keiko was still following her, but Angeliki was unfazed by it and pressed on. Within a few minutes she was, single-handedly, past all of Japan's defenders and right in front of the goal. As she made to kick, Keiko slid in to clear the ball away, but Angeliki managed to get past both her and the goalkeeper, Rin, making the score 1-0.
"Darn it!" said Keiko as she got to her feet "That won't happen again." she said to Angeliki
"Θα πρέπει να περιμένουμε κάτι καταπληκτικό. [Tha prépei na periménoume káti katapli̱ktikó./I'll be expecting something amazing.]" Angeliki replied. Keiko still didn't know what she was saying
In the stands;
"Darn shame, but what can ya do?" said Takajo
"Aizawa's first attempt, even Mai could've scored that." said Asuka
"We don't know that." said Mai "And I'm retired, thank you very much."
"And the game's just starting." said Nana "Keiko could've made that goal if she hadn't been marked."
"But there's only 15 minute's left in the first half and they're already losing by one goal." said Araki
"They'll get it back." said Yusuke "Have faith in them."
On the field;
"Listen up girls." said Meiko as Rin prepared to throw the ball back into play "Before the half ends, we're going to get that goal back." Keiko and the rest of the team cheered in agreement, and Rin threw the ball back into play.
Tomoko had possession and was bringing it forward. Before she reached the halfway line, she passed it to Maki, who proceeded into the Greeks side. Just as she was about to be blocked, she passed it to Meiko, who dodged around two Midfielders before passing it to Nanako. Nanako, knowing she had to pass, debated whether to pass it to Keiko or Kotoko, who were both being marked. Before she could make a decision, Angeliki, who left Keiko behind, stole the ball away. But Keiko, having anticipated this and followed, stole it back easily. Keiko then proceeded further down toward the goal, still marked by Angeliki. Keiko then found herself blocked by a Greek Midfielder and tried to do the Phi Trick to get past her, but Angeliki managed to get the ball before Keiko could reconnect with it. With less than four minutes left in the half, Angeliki made her way past all of Japan's defenders again. Rin was ready for her this time and prepared to block the ball. But instead of taking Rin on herself, Angeliki passed the ball to Sophia, who then sent the ball straight past Arimi. The score was now 2-0.
In the stands;
"You've gotta be kidding me!" said Suzuka
"The Greeks are better than I thought they'd be." said Mai "Especially that number 10."
"She even stopped the Phi Trick." said Kakeru
"I'm not surprised." said Araki "Some of these girls have grown up watching you play. Some of them might have even seen you play last time you were in Greece. Of course they would know how to stop it."
"I told you she needed some new moves of her own." said Mai
"Oh my, look at Kei-nee's face." said Ryo "She looks like she's really frustrated."
"Now that's a two-goal deficit, I'm not surprised." said Mako
On the field;
"I'm sorry, my feint failed." said Keiko
"Don't worry about it. We'll get those points back." said Meiko as the halftime whistle sounded
"After 45 minutes of play, Greece hit the ground running with 2 goals without reply. The second goal appears to have knocked the stuffing out of the home supporters. Now can Nadeshiko Japan find new energy from somewhere?" said the commentator.