Japan recently managed to win the East Asian Cup for the first time, but the manager Alberto Zaccheroni was more pleased with the number of new faces that shone for the national team. Japan came into this tournament with a number of players in their squad.
They will be one of the favourites to do well at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Japan is expected to be one of the strongest teams from Asia to participate in this tournament. As a result, Zaccheroni has been stressing the importance of carrying a strong squad tournament.
Japan started the East Asian Cup with an entertaining 3-3 draw against China. However, they quickly returned to their best in the 3-2 win over Australia. Following the 2-1 win over South Korea, they managed to lift the tournament.
Even though they conceded a lot goals during the tournament, Zaccheroni was pleased with the progress made by the new faces. He has said that the players exceeded his expectations throughout the tournament. Hotaru Yamaguchi was rewarded for an excellent tournament with the Golden Boot award, while the likes of Manabu Saito and Yuya Osako have increased their chances of making it into the World Cup squad with an impressive performance.
“The players exceeded my expectations, but I already knew they had quality. The fact that the players were able to grasp the team concept so quickly is proof of their intelligence. I could feel their desire to make the most of their chance. I feel like I have a lot of options, and although every player is different, the fact that my options have now increased is a big thing. Some players are ready to be called up now and some will play for the national team in the future,” said Zaccheroni after the win.