Soccer-Hiroshima coach pleads for new football culture in Japan

By Brian Homewood OSAKA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Sanfrecce Hiroshima coach Hajime Moriyasu pleaded for better support on Wednesday after the Japanese side's fans were outnumbered by those of opponents River Plate who had travelled more than 18,000 km. Sanfrecce's supporters, who needed to travel 300 km to the game, occupied just a small section behind one of the goals while those of their Argentine rivals took up nearly half the stadium during Wednesday's Club World Cup semi-final. River, who are estimated to have brought 15,000 fans to the tournament, won 1-0 to reach Sunday's final where they will face either Barcelona or Guangzhou Evergrande. "In terms of football culture, I have found a very big difference between us and them," Moriyasu told reporters through an interpreter. "The atmosphere, and those fans came all the way to Japan from Argentina, really made me feel like we were the away team, although, of course, our team was only founded 20 years ago." "Our players were always courageous and did their best, but the atmosphere that the River Plate fans created should encourage Japan to change our football culture by learning from other countries which have more history in football." Sanfrecce, considered a middle-ranking team in Japan in terms of support and budget, qualified for the tournament as champions of the host nation after winning the J-League title two weeks ago. Two years ago in Morocco, Raja Casablanca reached the final, beating South American champions Atletico Mineiro on the way, with the help of fanatical support before losing to Bayern Munich. (Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)